The film “Apocalypto” depicts the ancient Maya culture as a super-cruel, psycho-sadistic civilization. This movie illustrates the life of tribesmen who live in a fear to sacrifice their lives. They always have to keep themselves prepared to escape from the enemies and save their family, their villages from destruction. This movie was very adventurous and successful historical based movie; however, its depictions of original cultures generated controversy. I think, this movie was an inaccurate representation of the Maya culture. I felt that, portrayal of the Maya as sadistic savages was violent and it will affect the picture of understanding Maya culture. However, this movie portrayed the Maya civilization’s environment and other rituals were pretty much accurate and similar to the Maya culture described by early researchers. This movie is not only unsupported by any archaeological evidence, it also leads the viewers to see the Maya of the past as little more than blood thirsty savages that killed for entertainment. Stephen Houston, the professor of anthropology at Brown University says “For millions of people this might be their first glimpse of the Maya. This is the impression that is going to last. But this is Mel Gibson’s Maya. This is Mel Gibson’s sadism.
This is not the Maya we know”(Booth: Culture Shocker). In this movie, I also agree with Houston’s statement. I felt that there was missing of a lot of archeological evidence that could be used. Since this movie was based on Maya culture, it supposed to portrayed agricultural activities which was one of the most important element of Maya civilization; was totally ignored in this movie. The tribesmen village’s houses look like cages. There were no evidence of farming, weaving or maize-processing in this movie. However, in real life, the Maya were farmers from 2,000BC. They built firm houses on platforms faced with well-cut stone. People farmed plots and grew sweet potato, maize, beans, squash and cacao besides haunting animals. (Maya lecture: slide 6) The physical and architecture setting of the movie made a little sense. Throughout the film, it showed how beautiful vistas of densely forested mountains are! There are mountains in the south of the Maya area and I think the setting reflect that environment. There are many of the architectural details are fairly correct in this movie. Apocalypto is from beginning to end a geographical and historical mixture of different architectural styles.
Courtney from Study Moose
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