Directed By: Mel Gibson
Written By: Mel Gibson, Farhad Safinia
I have never seen The Passion of the Christ, because personally I think it’s a little psychotic to spend two hours watching someone being tortured to death. I find it disturbing that so many people did watch it and I think it’s sad that violence was such a motivating factor for so many people. I heard all about how inspiring this film was when it came out, but it’s not about Jesus, it’s about his death. Yeah yeah the sacrifice and all of that, but personally I think that Christians should be inspired by the words of their savior, and not the gruesome and violent way that he died. Nevertheless, I only bring that movie up because without it this film would have never been possible. I imagine that a movie made with no known celebrities, in a foreign language with subtitles, would be a hard sell and typically never get made. The success Mel Gibson had with The Passion of the Christ gave him the opportunity to do anything he wanted, and this was the product of that success. It’s a shame that we probably won’t see many more movies from him, what a far fall from grace he has had.
I used to be a really big Mel Gibson fan, he has made many great movies throughout his career. He really has gone completely crazy over the last several years though and that has been disappointing. It’s because of how crazy he had become that I almost never saw this movie. Fortunately my wife did convince me to see this film and it really is remarkable. For all his flaws, Mel Gibson is a great filmmaker, and this movie proves as much. As someone who almost became a history teacher I really appreciate how seriously this movie was taken, and how it can be used in education. Native American culture is rich and diverse, there are so many great stories to be told and things we can learn from it. I taught World History to 9th graders for a while, and I’m disappointed to say that the core curriculum called for little instruction on the Native American civilizations. I think the chapter in the book was one of the shortest and it lumped North and South American natives all into that small chapter together. The majority of the chapter was only on the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incans.
This film is amazing for many reasons, but one of the things I love the most about it is how ballsy it is. Mel Gibson truly is a gutsy filmmaker, he goes against the grain with this film. I imagine he did much the same with his crucifixion film but I will never know. He doesn’t sully it by making it in English, because that would be ridiculous. He also doesn’t sugar coat anything, it is as violent and graphic as it should be and I really appreciate that about the film. Too often movies are toned down to get better rating, i.e. better possibility at more ticket sales. It weakens the value and art of the film when that is done though, this is a movie that maximizes its potential. Apocalypto is a film I often fail to talk people into, but when I do they are always pleased with it. I hope that if you haven’t seen it you take a chance on it as well, it’s a great movie and more than worth your time.
For the record, I had to force Ryan to watch this movie. He didn’t want to watch it for two reasons, Mel Gibson and the fact that it is completely in subtitles. Both of these are reasons why I didn’t want to originally watch it either. Somehow, I ended up watching it anyway without Ryan and I thought it was superb. This movie is incredibly made and it puts so much depth and detail into every aspect. They say that the best artists are psychotic, so it would seem true with this film as well.
The really interesting thing that I liked about this movie is the ending. I am not going to give it away here, but do you remember how you felt the first time you watched Planet of the Apes? (Not that Tim Burton bullshit, but the original?) Apocalypto has that same aha feeling in the end. I feel like it was a perfect movie. The subtitles become intuitive. You are so engrossed and knowing of what is going on in the movie that you can almost feel the lines happening instead of reading them. It is truly a movie that everyone should see.
NEXT MOVIE: Apt Pupil (1998)