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Apocalypto Review Essay

Apocalypto: The Most Powerful Film Of All Time
Gibson's masterpiece an allegorical warning against unrestrained tyranny of government, human sacrifice and enslavement

Alex Jones & Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet
Monday, December 11, 2006

Mel Gibson's Apocalypto is the most powerful film of all time, it is packed with strong positive messages and sets the standard as the most polished, iconic and awe-inspiring allegorical warning against the unrestrained power and abuse of government that cinema has ever seen.

Set in Mesoamerica just before Spanish contact, the film illustrates the decline of the Maya civilization. The plot revolves around brutal Aztec warrior armies being sent on missions to capture and enslave neighboring tribes and bring them back to be used as fodder for human sacrifice and slavery.

Gibson again sets the tyrannical power of the state against the family and the rag-tag bands, it's what we witnessed in The Patriot and Braveheart but the message is driven home even more authoritatively in Apocalypto. In almost every case throughout history, in a declining empire the state assumes the role of a brutal, murdering and oppressive juggernaut, out to dominate and enslave the people. Apocalypto takes one example from history and uses it to underscore this universal truth.

The film details the horrors of unrestrained government and how tyrants always seize the reigns of control, press on the nerve of power and abuse, dominate and terrorize populations.

Apocalypto highlights the process of targeting the leading warriors of the enemy tribe, the tallest, toughest, meanest, would be the prime candidates for sacrifice and torture. This was done in an attempt to please the gods with the most coveted sacrifice and is the reason why indigenous populations in the region today are little over 5 foot tall on average.

Human sacrifice is a fundamental tenet of all historical dictatorships. It was practiced in ancient Germany, Greece, Asia and across the planet. The Mayans saw it as a normal function of society and would consider anyone who dissented as insane. Just as today, the police state, the surveillance state, torture and numerous other bizarre and abusive actions of the state are being normalized. History has taught us that cultures in terminal decline always resort to human sacrifice as they degenerate into the abyss of depravity and degradation and Apocalypto brings that message to the fore.

A telling moment in the film serves as commentary for the foreknowledge and exploitation of astronomical occurrences throughout history, where elite guilds versed in the secret wisdom of astronomy would anticipate solar and lunar eclipses and use them to hoodwink their populations into believing they held divine power, thus enlisting their enslavement and obedience under the threat that sun and moon would not return unless the people displayed total submission.

Parallels can be drawn to modern times where a population paranoid, fearful and uneducated can be brought to heel by manufactured monsters and imagined foreboding disasters in the name of the war on terror.

The film also illustrates how elites throughout history push bread and circuses, sporting and gladiatorial events, to distract the public from real issues and create false heroes to dislodge the natural mooring of man's moral compass and create a vacuum of good examples of how humans should function in a free society.

The Britney Spears of yesteryear, the adulated ones with their robes, bobbles and trinkets are exalted above all others and worshipped as gods on earth, as they take front row seats for macabre feasts of human blood-letting as institutionalized degradation sets in. The Mayans were simply echoing the more stylized Roman gladiatorial spectacles that preceded them. At first, the emperor's guards would simply torture and kill the prisoners but as the culture declined further, women and children were then fed to the lions in the name of entertainment.

Apocalypto communicates many positive aspects that give comfort to the soul, including the message of rejecting fear as a sickness, again alluding to today's society where fear is used as a method of brainwashing and control by the state.

Watching the film evokes a total immersion in the atmosphere of the experience. You are able to suspend disbelief and really imagine you are there in Mesoamerica. You feel the ancestral memories of the elders around the camp fire, it stirs the instinctive echoes of time that we as humanity all share.

There are very few films that have the impact of leaving you uplifted and enlightened as you leave the cinema, and for those impressions to stick. Apocalypto achieves this and teaches a philosophy of perseverance and courage that maintains an indelible mark on the viewer.

Mel Gibson is already being subjected to ridiculous hit pieces which attack him for depicting the real nature of the brutal Mayan culture.

An Austin-American Statesman article written by Chris Garcia features an interview with assistant professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas, Julia Guernsey.

The arguments used to bash Apocalypto are nitpicking jabs at minutia which are then exploited to demonize the message of the entire film, such as claimed minor inaccuracies in cave drawings and outright false assertions such as the notion that women were not involved in the sacrificial rituals.

The sacrifices themselves are not denied and in fact are exalted as nothing more than a cultural tendency. Guernsey even has the temerity at one point to spew that human sacrifice and sacrifice of babies was a "pious act" done "with solemnity." Guernsey recoils and sneers at the very notion that human sacrifice should be condemned.

Slamming a precise portrayal of Mayan culture as offensive and racist is to be expected from moral relativists who are completely absent any factual evidence to counter Gibson's depiction. The Nazi culture was barbarous, genocidal and a disgrace to humanity - is it racist towards German people to suggest this was the case?

Bounding babies and small children every morning and sacrificing them to the water gods and the fertility gods is wrong. It was wrong then and it would be wrong now.

Cutting someone's heart out at sunrise and sunset is wrong. It is not racist or offensive to judge a culture if it is clearly distasteful. It is not unacceptable to discern what is right according to our innate moral compass. In fact, any attempt at removing the boundaries and definition of evil is simply evil itself trying to erase our frame of reference to characterize it.

In addition, Gibson could have gone even further in revealing the true nature of the Mayan culture if he had so wished. Cannibalism and the ritual sacrifice of children are two horrors that we now know took place in Mesoamerica but are left out of the film.

It is wholly unsurprising to see negative early reaction from elements of the radical environmentalist fringe in defense of ritual sacrifice and slaughter. These individuals share the same mindset as people like Dr. Erik Pianka, who earlier this year advocated the release of ebola and other deadly diseases to wipe out the majority of the human population, and the wider UN driven movement to control population growth by means of mass genocide.

Mel Gibson is Stanley Kubrick on steroids and Apocalypto elevates him to the position of the greatest living director in the world today. He is the standard of casting, cinematography and research. Apocalypto is avant garde, state of the art and evergreen at every step of the way.

The world is not a safe place and history shows that the most dangerous force is always government and the crime syndicates that grow up around it. The same high priesthood that manipulated and controlled the Mayan tribes of thousands of years ago were beholden to the same statecraft of tyranny that is embraced by our rulers today. Apocalypto is the very definition of this message and its power obtains it the accolade of the most important film of our generation - and possibly of all time.

Apocalypto (2006)

Published by The Massie Twins

Score: 8/10

Genre: Adventure Running Time: 2 hrs. 19 min.

Release Date: December 8th, 2006 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Mel Gibson Actors: Rudy Youngblood, Dalia Hernandez, Morris Birdyellowhead, Raoul Trujillo, Gerardo Taracena, Ricardo Diaz Mendoza


omplete with perilous waterfall jumps, jaguar maulings, and sacrificial beheadings (not unlike “Predator” if it were based in reality), Mel Gibson’s latest effort returns to his epic approach toward storytelling through shockingly magnificent imagery and transportive, wholly immersive environments (here, the Mesoamerican rainforest). And the writer/director’s mastery of suspense and action will certainly leave audiences at the edges of their seats. It’s a tour de force of makeup, costuming, sound mixing/editing, suspense, and violence that thunderingly evolves from a story of unyielding survival into a passionate triumph of courage and revenge – and a glimpse at the undoing of a civilization.

The tale is simple, yet surprisingly powerful. A peaceful Mayan village is attacked by invading forces, leaving Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood) cruelly separated from his family (but not before hiding his wife and child in a well) and sent to a fantastical city built on blood, fear, and oppression – where he is to become a human sacrifice to the gods. A twist of fate offers him a chance to escape, and with his unwavering determination and bravery, he embarks on a bloody odyssey through unforgiving terrain to rejoin his loved ones. But as he’s savagely pursued by his enemies, Jaguar Paw must utilize the skillful prowess and cunning tricks taught to him by his father and peers to evade capture and certain doom.

Though masked by the unique setting of a 16th-century Mayan culture, “Apocalypto” is still a very human story, bestowed with an impressive familiarity thanks to a talented ensemble of relatively unknown actors (cast for their authentic, indigenous roots). Facial piercings, tattooing, and foreign languages cannot hide the human qualities of love, hatred, mettle, and fear that bring to life this stunning adventure, in which good guys are good, bad guys are most definitely bad, and death is as brutally vivid as possible. While the average viewer may be put off by reading subtitles, the harsh language of Yucatec Maya adds an authenticity to the proceedings that would have been unattainable if substituted or dubbed. The speech and culture of this archaeological people may differ vastly from any of today, but the assemblage of convincing talent creates relatable personas that transcend foreign ways of life.

As with Gibson’s previous film (“The Passion of the Christ”), the visuals tell more story than any amount of dialogue could ever hope to. A society is brought to life with bold settings, ranging from huts of grass and tree branches to towering temples of stone. Paintings and ornaments grace the outer city, while decapitated heads and bloody stairways decorate the sacrificial pyramids within. Primitively beautiful costumes of animal skins and human bones adorn the inhabitants of this mysterious domain. More drastic piercings and heavy scarring separate the protagonists from the antagonists, while each character possesses individualistic hairstyles, costuming, and weaponry.

It seems Gibson has always had a penchant for severe bloodletting in his films, and “Apocalypto” is no exception. This time around, however, the violence emphasizes the evils of men and the formidableness of nature, while also providing adequate means to satisfy the thirst for revenge. Several of the villains are so vile, in fact, that to see them meet their demise peacefully would surely be a letdown. Though not for the squeamish, the viscerally charged carnage adds a degree of realism and a raw intensity to the animalistic perseverance of the hunted. It is, after all, a chase movie, stripped of all technological advancements and vehicular ornamentation. “Apocalypto” may not be a fundamentally new beginning for Gibson’s artistry, but he continues to tackle historically-tinged, grand-scale adventures unlike anything before them. Inaccuracies in portrayals or excessive creative liberties aside, the filmmaker is undeniably adept at drawing viewers into his cinematic world, populated by strong performances, nonstop action, and riveting conflicts.

– The Massie Twins


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