Apocalypto is dividing up my friends, colleagues, and my favorite critics more than any movie I can remember since… well… The Passion of the Christ.
Thanks to Stuart Buck for sending this along… certainly a different perspective than I’ve read elsewhere…
Apocalypto is a Catholic masterpiece. Its message shines as clear as the noon-day sun for those who have eyes of faith–but is missed completely by unbelievers. It is a story of the end of a civilization; a civilization that was destroyed from within, by infighting and environmental destruction and imperialism and cynicism and slaughter of the innocent. As that civilization falls, a prophecy is given by a small child of a new beginning.
CAUTION! If you want to avoid spoilers, you may want to skip this one.
Stuart also recommended Ross Douthat’s blog about the film at The American Scene.
Most good movies that deal in blood, admittedly, walk a finer line between sensation and seriousness. Think of The Godfather, for instance, where the violence is both necessary to the action and dangerously close to crowd-pleasing territory, a trap that later mob stories like Goodfellas and The Sopranos have attempted to escape by de-mythologizing their mobsters. (I don’t think they’ve quite succeeded.) Like Peter, I would put Apocalypto in this tightrope-walking category: The depictions of human sacrifice, I thought, showed just enough blood to get the point across and not a corpuscle more, but in the second half of the movie – where the hero picks of his pursuers one by one – there are a pair of scenes (you’ll know them when you see them) where Gibson treads dangerously close to actively reveling in gore. This is a weakness in the movie, one of many, but I don’t think it’s enough to damn Apocalypto, or its director, as corrupt.
And then there’s Peter Suderman, and I admire his writing as well.
Sigh. I guess I’m gonna have to go see this after all.