Thursday, December 07, 2006

Signs of the Apocalypto

First, The Passion of the Christ was accused of being anti-Semitic before the movie ever saw the light of day. Then came the whole experience with the Jewish police officer and the alcohol. Now, the descendants of the Mayan empire have a beef with him.

Things just haven't been going well for Mel Gibson recently.

While Apocalypto and Gibson have received some praise for their usage of the Mayan language, and for the casting of mostly indigenous actors, there is still quite a bit of uproar revolving around the film. The fact that, at least in the trailers, the characters are pictured as being fairly savage, and engaging in the practice of sacrifices makes those of Mayan descent feel that Gibson is once again putting forward a racist epic. The same comments that haunted The Passion of the Christ are now being levied against the new film.

While there may be a hint of truth behind this, I think it's important to underline what Gibson is actually doing, and that is creating an overly self-important film. After all, it's one thing to be reading subtitles for a film that was produced completely by (and for) people that don't speak your native tongue. It's still another to be reading subtitles because the director has decided, ever since he fabricated a story about Scotland, that he's important and powerful enough to film the entire movie using what has mostly become a dead language. What's next for Gibson? Is he going to regale us with a sweeping documentary about the Crusades, with the entire soundtrack in Latin? At least with Latin, a few more people globally will recognize and understand without missing half the action because they're reading the bottom of the screen.

So yes, Mel Gibson has once again made an offensive movie. But not because it may or may not be racist. Apocalypto will be offensive because it will have an extended running time, and it will be used to preen the feathers of an overly egomaniacal director, one who feels that he can get away with the conceit of using a mostly dead language because, well, his film is just so darned important.

Now, how do you say "sugar tits" in Mayan?

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