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APOCALYPTO by Mel Gibson


Central America just before the arrival of the Spaniards, the Mayan culture is on the verge of collapsing. A rather peaceful village of hunters is attacked by a war party. Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood), son of the village chief Flint Sky (Morris Birdyellowhead) is one of the survivors of the brutal raid, and he can hide his pregnant wife (Dalia Hernandez) and his son in a hole in the ground before he is carried off to the raiding party’s town with other survivors.
Snake Ink (Rodolfo Palacios), whom Jaguar Paw almost killed before being captured, is an especially sadistic guard. He kills Flint Sky before the helplessly watching Jaguar Paw and continues to harass him and the other captives on their long way to the town built of stone where they shall be sacrificed to the gods in order to end a drought. But Jaguar Paw is not ready to die on the pyramid – he has a pregnant wife and a son to save before they die of thirst or hunger, and he has taken his father’s words to heart – he is a hunter, the jungle is his hunting ground, and fear is the worst enemy of man.
Under circumstances matching a prophecy of the end of the world Jaguar Paw can escape from the bloodsoaked altar, but Zero Wolf (Raoul Trujillo) and a squad of hunters including Snake Ink won’t let him get away easily. The hunter is now the hunted and racing back to the burnt remains of his village to save his wife and son, but his merciless tormentors are close on his heels.
Outnumbered and without weapons, Jaguar Paw runs for his life scared to death – until he remembers this is his jungle, where he hunted with his father, just as Flint Sky has hunted with grandfather before, and where he will hunt with his son …

The beginning of APOCALYPTO suggests this is a film about the death of a civilization, but that’s rarely hinted at later.
What it is is a rather bloody and gory action-film with exceptional production values. The unknown but magnificent actors of native American origin speak in Yucatec throughout the film. If you don’t happen to speak Yucatec, you have to content yourself with the subtitles.
The pacing is flawless in the classic three-act-structure of APOCALYPTO (1st act: introduction of the hero and his fellows, a likeable tribe of hunters who love practical jokes (the kind of jokes Mel Gibson is notorious for), hunting, eating and their families. 2nd act: disaster strikes in the form of the raiding party. 3rd act: the chase and resolution), DoP Dean Semler’s photography is extraordinary, and the love to detail in production and costume design draws you right into the jungle.
But you better be prepared that life in the jungle is a bloody, gory, savage business – if you can’t stand throat-slitting, impaling or ripped-out hearts, the jungle and APOCALYPTO are not for you. Some may be offended by historical inaccuracies and the depiction of the Maya (at least many of them) as bloodthirsty savages, but this is not Dances with Wolves with it’s “noble savages”, and it’s not a documentation or a historically accurate chronicle, this is MAD MAX in the jungle, the story of one fearless warrior who fights for his and his family’s life.

Apocalypto Trailer (UK version)

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