I had the chance to see "Apocalypto" the other day. There are many things I could say in response to this movie. But I doubt I will articulate them all. This is because Mel Gibson was successful in making a movie that is very far removed from my western world view. It is very hard for me to place this movie in any category in my life. I am greatly appreciative for a movie that opened my eyes to a very different world and way of life.
In this sense, it was a brilliant movie. It was extremely realistic to my eyes and senses, it did not appear to be fantastic in any way at all. I liked the life of the tribe in the village. While their culture may not have been perfect and they may not have known God personally (although I have no claims in either direction), they seemed to be peace loving people.
The people who attacked them, the Mayans seemed to be terribly evil people. Mayan culture is known to be one of the most advanced cultures in history, yet their approach to spirituality was evil and sadisitic, full of bloodthirsty human sacrifices.
I recently had a discussion with an evangelical friend who I like a lot. But I felt his response to this movie was so cliche and standard, that he could not possibly have thought about it all. "There was an awful lot of nudity, in the movie." (Was there? I didn't notice anything of a sexual nature what so ever.) "Wasn't it all about idolatry?" (Well it didn't say that idolatry was good!)
We have to be careful in evangelical cultures to not view the world with blinders on. This movie was brilliantly made. Maybe too cryptic for the average evangelical, I could see plainly the points that Mel Gibson was making.
And for those that can't work it out, let me quote Mel Gibson for you:
"APOCALYPTO is an action-adventure set against the turbulent times at the end of the great Maya civilization.
I have always been fascinated by the precipitous collapse of the ancient Maya civilization and the social and spiritual reasons behind it. The more I learned about it, the more I believed it is a story that has many similarities to society today.
Apocalypto is a story about Jaguar Paw, a man whose idyllic existence is disrupted by a violent invading force. He is taken on a perilous journey to a world ruled by fear and oppression, where a harrowing end awaits him. Through a twist of fate and spurred by the power of his love for his wife, family and his unwavering faith in what he believes is right, he will make a desperate break to return home and to ultimately save his way of life.
In making APOCALYPTO, I hoped to compose a portrait of a society heading towards its final days, but I also wanted to include another vital concept: hope. The story of Jaguar Paw is a universal story of the spark of life that exists even in a civilization in decay. APOCALYPTO means “new beginning”, however in order to have a new beginning, something has to end… and with every ending, there is also a new beginning."