After watching Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto (2006), I can understand much of the controversy surrounding it. Aside from some of the eccentric behavior of the director himself, it is, after all, a Mel Gibson movie. That means that there’s plenty of blood and guts to spread around. And there are to be sure, some historical inaccuracies—the most glaring of which being the encounter of the Spanish with the Mayans. The Mayan civilization had largely disappeared well before the Europeans arrived.
Some see the opening quote by Will Durant, “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within,” as an indictment of the Mayans, who needed to be saved by the Spanish Christians. I see it as more of a commentary on every civilization, every empire—including our own.
But taking Apocalypto just as a movie, I found it to be extremely well done. There are many stories within a story: some humorous, some exciting, and some, as the title seems to suggest, a revelation of the end. It’s the end of the world, and at the same time, a new beginning. There quite literally is (and those who watch the movie understand what I’m saying) new life from the depths. There is resurrection.