I put off watching Mel Gilbson’s 2006 epic period movie Apocalyto for 2 reasons 1) I don’t like Mel Gibson and 2) well it’s a period movie set in the Central American jungle and all dialogue is in Yucatec Maya language with English subtitles! Turns out, it was my loss afterall.
I still don’t like Gibson but this epic movie is a must-see for any movie fan. It’s a chase film which starts of in the hunt of a wild animal for food. The men from the tribe play a practical joke on the dumbest member and it goes on from there to an evening of community & serene peace. The next morning our hero, Jaguar Paw, has to hide his pregant wife and little son in an underground cave while the village is attacked by raiders. JP watches as his father’s throat is slit right in front of him, while tied up. The villagers are forcefully tied up and led to the Maya city, while leaving the kids behind.
The women of the village are sold as slaves in the Maya city while the men are taken for sacrifice by a high priest as offering to their god. The brutal scenes of illness ravaged people lead onto the killing of the men – their hearts are cut out while still beating and then the head is chopped off. JP escapes death as there is an eclipse, so he & the remaining men are taken as target practice by the raiders. JP manages to escape, killing one of the raiders and then begins the thrilling chase over a couple of days.
I can’t describe the field of dead bodies of villagers, the running in the forest while dodging spears and arrows, leaping over a huge waterfall, the way a jaguar mauls at the face of a raider – you just gotta watch it. The lecherous & vicious Third Eye is killed by JP – he had previously taunted the villagers and was the one who killed JP’s father. The leader of the raiders is caught in a hunting trap that JP used to set for wild prey. JP finally rescues his son & wife – who gives birth to another boy while in the cave (in an unbelievable scene of the baby coming out of her womb).
The movie is set to show the downfall of the great Mayan civilization; infighting, sacrifices, drought & finally – as the movie ends we see Columbus and his men arriving at the shores. Great movie that shall go down as one of the best epic movies in recent years.