Friday 05 January 2007
His personal troubles have endeared him to nobody, but Mel Gibson doesn't seem to have let them affect his film-making. Few other period movies would dare to deploy unknown actors and dialogue exclusively couched in Mayan, and fewer still would get away with it. Apocalypto begins in a deceptively innocent key, conjuring a prelapsarian world of noble hunters who make jokes about impotence and the mother-in-law (yes, they had them even then).
Then all hell breaks loose as a young brave, Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood), and his tribe are attacked, enslaved and delivered into the fearsome clutches of a sun-worshipping cult. Their hapless bewilderment on arriving at the cult's stone-built temple has a genuine shiver of dread, which turns to outright horror once we realise what fate has in store for Jaguar Paw and his people.
The story, which gradually evolves into a long chase thriller, is modestly scaled, but the violence is dizzyingly savage: if you didn't already know it from Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ, here is a director obsessed with evisceration. Whatever such mauling and mangling and skewering might say about Gibson's psychopathology, you'd have to admit that he stages it with bravura skill and stealth. The scene in which the terrifying Zero Wolf (Raoul Trujillo) and his unmerry men prepare, Olympic-style, to execute the "surplus" victims is breathtaking, and slightly reminiscent of the Gestapo dispatching Resistance fighters in Melville's L'Armée des Ombres. There is something poetic, too, in the way that Jaguar Paw counters his pursuers by the unlikeliest means - frogs, bees, trees, even jumping waterfalls - and you will cheer him all the way.
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Exodus Gods and Kings casting controversy: Ridley Scott would never cast 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Michael Buerk wishes he'd killed Jimmy Savile when he had the chance - by pushing him overboard a cruise ship
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' close to camp
Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
Exodus Gods and Kings casting controversy: Ridley Scott would never cast 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
The Fall, series 2, episode 3 – TV review: The Gillian Anderson drama is starting to push the realms of plausibility, but who cares?
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Sarah Vine criticises lesbian mother Jack Monroe: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'