Apocalypto — new trailer, a few more details

Apocalypto — new trailer, a few more details September 13, 2006

There is a new trailer up now for Mel Gibson‘s Apocalypto. Also, the New York Times ran a story a few days ago on the marketing challenges posed by this film, and it offered a few details about the film — such as the name of its protagonist — that were new to me:

An action movie set in the dying days of the Maya civilization, the 15th century, “Apocalypto” was made in the Yucatec dialect without a single recognizable actor, and shot in the jungles of Mexico, where heavy rains slowed production and postponed its planned release from this summer. Photos from the set showed that Mr. Gibson had grown a full beard and let its central white streak grow longer than the rest, as if defiantly choosing to look like an aging eccentric. . . .

But those photos from Mexico and the subject of “Apocalypto” — the hero, called Jaguar Paw, is chosen as a human sacrifice and makes a fast-paced escape through the rain forest — were enough to make anyone wonder whether Mr. Gibson had finally gone around the bend and turned into some cinematic Kurtz, lost in the dark jungle. . . .

The film’s Web site, put up months ago, still heralds it as “a heart-stopping mythic action-adventure,” and the trailer (a notoriously unreliable guide, but all we have) suggests it is squarely aimed at fans of “Braveheart.” As Jaguar Paw races through the jungle pursued by torch-bearing warriors, the movie seems fraught with the kind of action that makes Yucatec or any other language superfluous. There will be subtitles, but Mr. Gibson, who wrote the screenplay with his former assistant, Farhad Safinia, has said there isn’t much dialogue anyway. Some actors have extravagantly painted faces, while others are caked with white powder from a lime quarry. There is romance, or at least there has been sex: we see Jaguar Paw look tenderly at a pregnant woman. And a huge crowd scene at a Mayan temple is presided over by a man with clawlike nails straight from a horror film. . . .

A little nit-pick about the beard: While it is true that Gibson had the beard when he did the initial press conference for this film — and when he had a subliminal cameo in the teaser, and when he was interviewed for the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? — he had already lost the beard by the time his picture was taken on the set for a photo that appeared in Time magazine in March.

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