Arts & Entertainment
Review: Gibson made up a big one with 'Apocalypto'

"Apocalypto has a faux Greek title and an opening quote from historian Will Durant that ruminates on the decline of imperial Rome. It may seem an odd way to comment on the supposed end of an imaginary, unspeakably barbaric Mayan civilization—but WWJD? Mel Gibson means to be universal.

Not just a walk in the park with Mel and the guys (in this case a large cast of mainly Mexican Indians speaking present- day Yucatec), this lavishly punishing picture is the third panel in Gibson's "Ordeal" triptych. The Martyrdom of the Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ have nothing on The Misadventures of the Jaguar Paw, junior citizen of a generally jovial, practical-joke-loving 16th-century Central American social unit. Given the absence of any identification, and with regard to their good looks and family values (that is, keeping pet monkeys and having babies), these noble savages might be called the Sugar Tit tribe.

Maybe the Mayans really did bounce human heads down the steps of their pyramids but, being as their civilization collapsed hundreds of years before the Spanish conquest, how would we know? "A lot of it, story-wise, I just made up," Gibson confessed to the Mexican junketeers who visited his set last year. "And then, oddly, when I checked it out with historians and archaeologists and so forth, it's not that far [off]." Or far out, for that matter. Irrational as it may be, Mel's sense of history does have a logic: JP's trip to hell ends when the Christians arrive."

Get the Story:
J. Hoberman: Mel Gibson Is Responsible for All the Wars in the World (The Village Voice 12/5)

Relevant Links:
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