In the Film Apocalypto, the Baby Jaguar Made Me Cry


Following up on my blog’s apocalyptic tone for the day, I just watched Apocalypto, directed by Mel Gibson.

Sadly, even with my limited knowledge of their culture, I could tell that many of the lead actors were not indigenous Mayans. So, from the beginning of the film, I had trouble suspending disbelief that I was truly on an epic voyage. And, Gibson’s film seemed to haughtily hint that the Mayans needed rescue from their civilization — the film, after all, opens with the following quote: “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it is destroyed from within.”

Yet, I’ll admit I really have no idea what his intent was, and undeniably, the film is a work of art, no matter your perspective on its politics, or if you prefer to travel to Cancun or the Ruta Pu’uc.

It will certainly make you look at your photos of the Mayan pyramids with renewed admiration. The Mayan culture, even as depicted by Gibson (which Mayan experts say was a bit of a stretch) is simply riveting…..

While I loved the scenes at the Mayan temple, and of the wealthy class adorned in jade and feathered headdresses, the scene I found most gut wrenching was when the lead character, Jaguar Paw, escapes his captors, shimmies up a tree, and comes face-to-face with a hissing jaguar cub.

It was pivotal, and a powerful statement, since jaguars can barely exist in our world anymore, let alone chase down human prey. Like the rural prisoners of the Mayan city, jaguars now are more likely to pace the confines of a zoo enclosure, on shameless display, serving as entertainment, instead of revered for what they are: a once-feared predator still deserving of respect and protection.

A promotional image from the film (and Jesus, imagine the amount of waste created making this film, with little of the investment going back to protect the people and the land):

Mayan City

My photo of a similar pyramid, suffering the fates of time:

Comb of a Mayan Ruin

Joy at Kabah

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