Mel Gibson's Apocalypto is the most powerful film of all time, it is packed with strong positive messages and it is the most polished, iconic and awe-inspiring allegorical warning against the unrestrained power and abuse of government that cinema has ever seen.
The plot of the film depicts 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. Set in Mesoamerica just before Spanish contact, it depicts the decline of the Maya civilization.
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, the state is brutal, murdering and oppressive and it is out to dominate and enslave the only people you can trust, your family, your brethren, your tribe.
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. This is the norm of human history.
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.
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.
The film also has a 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.
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.
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