I once wrote that one can’t be a critic and a filmmaker at the same time because the former is reactive while the latter is proactive. Yet, here I am contradicting myself, at least in a sense. While Apocalypto is already known, I desire to produce such short analyses simply out of respect. In his case it is because I believe that Mel Gibson, while already respected as a filmmaker, is actually still underrated. He is on the threshold of deserving the same reverence in film, both as art and entertainment, as Spielberg and Scorsese as great living directors. The masterpiece that is Apocalypto reminds us of his vision and reach.
Apocalypto, directed by Mel Gibson, produced by his Icon Productions along with Touchstone Pictures and released in 2006, is a film about revelation and revolution. The film follows a young tribesman named Jaguar Paw (Youngblood) as his idyllic life is uprooted by raiders who enslave his people and prepare him and others for sacrifice to Mayan deity Kukulkan. Jaguar Paw’s goal is to survive and make his way back to his expectant wife and their child who are trapped in a pit. Stripped of his tribe and with no home, he transforms from hunted to hunter as he claims his identity in life.