Saturday, 10 March 2018

Mel Gibson's Apocalypto

We should be grateful that Apocalypto was well into production when Mel Gibson swamped headlines with his ''anti-Semitic rants'' in 2006 because judging by the subsequent nosedive in Gibson's career the people who don't run Hollywood in their own interest would have surely shelved the project. In actual fact even if Gibson hadn't ''offended'' the Hollywood Jewish elites the themes and ideas contained within Apocalypto would have been enough to make them wince anyway.

 A movie focused on the dying Mayan Empire which depicts the Mayans as ruthless and barbaric, a movie which carries this on its opening credits:

Was always bound to catch the ire of the porridge brained lefties in the mass media and indeed, it did.  A movie featuring Mesoamericans slaughtering each other and ritually sacrificing each other into civilizational collapse and then being rescued by the white man, as the leftist media would have it, would have been a film I'd be quite happy to watch, but that isn't the movie Gibson made.

  Apocalypto is, however, deeply ''Right Wing'' philosophically. Gibson is not interested in playing at ''Identity politics'' but rather in exploring themes of moral decay and spiritual rebirth. Apocalypto is the story of young man (Jaguar's Paw) who witnesses the rape and plunder of his people at the hands of the formidable warrior ''Zero Wolf'' and is then marched off in slavery to the unnamed Mayan metropolis to be ritually sacrificed. Meanwhile Jaguar's heavily pregnant wife is hiding in a hole in the forest floor from which she cannot escape.

 The city itself is a hell-scape, a weird degenerate elite rule over legions of famine stricken serfs, thousands of heads sit on spikes, corpses rot in the streets. Slaves hack out some sort of alabaster to cover the pyramids which has resulted in the dying vegetation and populace being permanently covered in an unnatural white powder.

 The manner in which the ruling elite sacrifice their captives is truly horrific, their hearts are cut out so swiftly the captive gets to gaze upon it beating for a second before being decapitated and kicked down to the chanting, disease riddled plebs at the foot of the pyramid. And it gets worse, the entire ritual is a lie the ruling elites are using to keep the masses subdued, to contain them as they die of famine and plague.

 Jaguar's Paw is spared being sacrificed because of an elaborate con played upon the masses by the elite priestly caste, who knew beforehand that an eclipse would take place at that moment, thus the Gods had answered their calls, sufficient numbers of people had been slaughtered, they were content...for now.  

 After killing Zero Wolf's son Jaguar's Paw flees the hell of the city and bolts back into the jungle with Zero Wolf and his warriors in pursuit. As if that isn't enough, Jaguar comes to realize that his pregnant wife is still down the hole with his son and all will surely drown if the clouds open before he returns, if he returns at all.

 Apocalypto is a magnificent piece of film making, the cinematography is both beautiful and grotesque, magnificent waterfalls one minute, close ups of an arrow slicing through a jaw the next. The dialogue is sparse but meaningful, spoken in Mayan with English subtitles, we feel as if we're viewing these events through a hidden window, or a nature documentary, except, for some reason, we can relate to the deeper ideas and concepts being explored here.

 Mel The Sage

At the beginning of Apocalypto the village elder tells a story, it's the story of a man who begs the animals of the forest to allow him to have their gifts, he's stupid so the snake gives him intelligence, he's weak so the Jaguar gives him strength, he's shortsighted so the vulture gives him vision. The man then wanders off and the animals conclude that they've done the right thing, that now the man will be content. But the owl disagrees, yes, the man is now smart and powerful, he can do many things, but he has within him a void, an emptiness which he can never fill, but he will try, he will try until the earth strikes back and says ''No more, I have nothing left to give!''

 The Mayan city is the void writ large, all around it lies destruction and desolation, the city is a spiritual nullity at war with its surroundings. It sucks all resources and peoples into its gaping maw and then spits them back out, bastardized and warped, poisoned and debased or dead. It's tempting to be a bit cheeky here and suggest that this is Gibson getting an underhanded jab in at Hollywood, but you could also make the same criticism of London or New York or Paris or any other western metropolis. 

 The wider point being made is that at the heart of Mayan civilization was a moral and spiritual vacuum which they tried to fill with materialism, consumption and casual barbarism while worshiping false Gods and the elites themselves knew they were false. 

 The idiots in the mass media who never understood Gibson's film are akin to the corrupt priesthood lying about the eclipse, if only we make the great project look prettier it will be worth it, squeeze out more equality quotas, politicize children's genitals, demolish the churches, more supermarkets, more homosexual leaders, more, just more! They argued against Apocalypto using the terminology of their own dying civilization, using the very moral framework which is gnawing away at western civilization like a Mayan child on a dead rat, and they do so while presenting it as the height of cutting insight. 

Hunter or Hunted?

Jaguar's Paw defeats the mighty Zero Wolf and his warriors by transcending the material realm which they inhabit, Jaguar becomes the living embodiment of the village elder's prophecy, nature will indeed say ''No more!'' and it will do so through the prophetically named ''Jaguar's Paw''. Nature's revenge against the abomination of the Mayan city and its agents manifests itself by turning the roles of hunters and hunted upside down. By using the resources provided by the forest, such as bees and poisonous frogs, Jaguar's Paw resets the balance. Skewering Zero Wolf on the same trap that killed a tapir at the beginning of the movie.

 Apocalypto's most famous and controversial scene comes at the end, Jaguar's Paw fights the last of the warriors when they all at once stop and gaze out to sea in utter amazement, their epic battle now suddenly fades into insignificance, the white man has arrived, and he isn't smiling or holding an LGBT flag, he's stern and holding the Christian cross. The hunter/hunted dichotomy is now put into stark relief, having debased its spirituality and morals, having ravaged the nature which nurtured them, the Mayan Empire has collapsed in on itself and now, in the grand scheme of world history, they're no longer the hunters, but the hunted.

 Again, in typical self loathing fashion, the high priests of western liberalism decried this scene as a ''justification for colonialism''. They grossly underestimate just how reactionary Mel Gibson is, as a devout Catholic Gibson seems to be viewing the rise and fall of civilizations through something of a Spenglerian lens. Apocalypto is not a justification for the past, but a warning to the future, indeed, our present! 

 In order to make this point all you have to do is contrast the European men who landed on the beaches of South America 500 years ago, brimming with determination, faith and vigour, with the sad fools of the Metropolis debasing themselves before other men, from other groups, and ask yourself: Are we hunters, or the hunted?

 The message of Mel Gibson's masterpiece appears to be: The difference between being hunter and hunted is a state of mind.....

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