Saturday, 8 September 2007

Apocalypto 3 and final

So, if you've been following this blog over the past couple of weeks you would realise that an earlier blog I wrote have initiated a heated discussion between 2 distinguished Syrian bloggers, Syrian Brit and Abufares! Seeking an unbiased say and because they did hijack my initial blog in their discussion, they have turned to me, one with inferior knowledge of the over all topic of the film (the final days of the Mayan civilisation) and of the finer details that make or break a film...Faced with such a burden of a task I didn't have a choice but to buy the DVD and watch it, all 139m of it, and was left with a very mixed bag of reactions.Take the historical context of the film aside, the underlying story is one shared across civilisations and times, a young man seeking to return to his home, wife and family fighting against odds to save his loved one! In that the film, while in original Mayan has delivered exquisitely, the body language, the tone of voice and some superb acting by young Jaguar Paw's wife giving birth while trying to save her first born! The anxious look of a trapped victim when someone approaches their hiding place. The combination of camera work and stunning scenery has, for me, contributed to making this film click to some extent; unfortunately, it was only to some extent!!!Films that depict a certain period in human history are always bound to cause controversy, history as we all know is told by the winners and while I couldn't help but understand Syrian Brit's view about the touch of white supremacy in the end and the showing of how barbaric the Mayans were beforehand, I can't completely agree with him. The film is trying to be true to form and whether quoting National Geographic or Wikipedia, the practices shown in the film did happen, the use of religion as a tool to control the masses by striking the fear of God/Gods in them is prescribed throughout human history and to say that it happened in a less brutal way or it should not have been shown in that light doesn't change the fact that it did. In that regard I do apologies for my two good friends here since I wont be able to give you a final saying on that side of the film...So why the hell didn't I just say that in the first 3 lines and not drag on and one like this? well simply because watching the film, I was disturbed by something other than historical accuracy and hidden agendas in the film, what caused me to pause and take a deep breath (which I did a couple times watching the film) is the amount of gore that was shown in the film, if you consider that the film was rated as suitable for 18 and older audience only for the violence content within it, you would understand what I mean! You were asked to see the gushes of blood, be so engaged in the film that you feel you can even smell it and be caught by the spray flying about with each blow. I can understand the need to be realistic but what worries me is that we live at a time when you need to be that shocking on screen in order to reach to your audience. Apocalypto, true to a long line of other films, reflects the psyche of the new generation of audience; we are faced with that gore in the papers, in our daily life and every time we switch on the TV and although disturbing in itself, what is more worrying is that we've grown accustomed to it! We don't react to such images as before, gradually, less and less things shock us and the film makers are picking up that underlying trend and responding by increasing the volume in each new production. It’s becoming a never ending cycle spiralling upwards all the time.This line of thought is not new, when I was telling my friend about watching this film and what I thought of it, he referred me to someone who has presented this argument before. Funny enough it relats to the same moviemaker, Mil Gibson's Passion of Christ! Walter Davis's article reflects on the change in the American psyche since 9/11, "the deadening of emotions" that we flee by an overdose of violence whether that violence was on screen or off! Going back to Apolcalypto, I think I should be grateful that I still cannot stomach that level of violence, that unlike my young niece and nephew, I still feel a bit uneasy at some of the scenes from CSI! And after a long thought, that gratefulness was the overwhelming idea that I ended up with!I'm really sorry SB and Abufares, I told you from the start that great sequences never happen (with the exception of Godfather 2) and this "long awaited" opinion is no difference.I enjoyed this virtual interaction over this film, and that counts as a point in its favour! I think that we should do this more often (films, books) We've already had a musical argument (abufares you remember I think ;-).And now I leave the floor to you my friends.... shoot!

(A reference should be made to a very dear friend who helped me in correcting a number of writing errors within the blog! Thanks dear, you're editorial skills are always welcomed.)


abufares said...

What can I say SiL. I find myself agreeing with you instead of the other way around. But in all truth, the harsh violence of the movie did upset me from the beginning. However, in light of my almost total agreement with the sequence of events, from a purely humanistic and existential vantage point, I kind of accepted the brutality as a necessary agreement to get the point across. I have to concede though, the extra dose of gory details might be for commercial and box office reasons as well.
Thank you for your very informative review. I await your suggestion for a must-see movie.

Syrian in London said...

dear Abufares, I can understand that part of the violence was necessary for the flow of the story, but by far not that much!
next film, hmmmm there are a lot of new releases so i'm still think of what next to see, any suggestions?

The Syrian Brit said...

Syrian in London,
Thank you very much for the honest and sincere commentary on an admittedly violent film that is filled with powerful graphic images of what man can do to man (and does it all the time, sadly!..)..
I agree with you on that one, but also agree with Abu Fares that the violence, in an odd way, becomes part of the story, albeit exaggerated for the benefit of the box office..

Abu Fares,
I think we can call this a draw?..

abufares said...

Syrian Brit
A draw it is.
I wanted you to tell me about one of your favorite movies, not necessarily a new release. Something available on DVD so that I can check it out.

Syrian in London said...

Dear Abufares;
Funny enough, favourite films were the topic of discussion at the office last Friday afternoon! And a number of titles were mentioned: Gladiator, Green Mile, Forest Gump, The piano, The mirror has two faces and the list goes on. I think that different moods at different times result in a different order of the top 10 titles!

saint said...

Syrian in London, you have wonderful stuff on your hands, if you do not mind let me contribute in twisted way to this discussion.
Although I did not see the film, it was intentional, I read a lot of commentaries about the movie and the ones listed on this blog was most interesting. I still prefer not to see the movie and some comments like those ones on Rotten Tomato will keep me from seeing it:
-The harder Apocalypto works to shock and excite you, the less shocked and excited you become, until you may find yourself beset by the urge to giggle
-Apocalypto wants us to believe there is an overpowering darkness in the land, while I can't quite get past a suspicion of overpowering darkness in the filmmaker
-The buzz is wrong. Apocalypto is unquestionably the most reprehensible, brain-dead and offensive movie I've seen all year, and this year has been a doozy.
-Gibson isn't interested in educating either us or himself ... [and] the switch to pure action allows him to indulge in his by-now predictable sadism.

Living in USA still does not excite much to see Hollywood, big box office movies unless critics confessed me to.
Liked the idea of discussing movie on your blog, and I would like to recommend “Junebug”
By Phil Morrison. It is a wonderful story from the south. The movie shows that here in American, not everything is commercial and Hollywood, they are humans too.

Syrian in London said...

Hello Saint, thanks for your feedback and your quoted comments on the film. Mil's recent attempts as a moviemaker has been at best controversial and I liked him better as an actor (brave heart remains one of my all time favourite).
I will try to see the film that you suggested and as an armature movie fan, I would love to discuss any film I see with you and anyone else who's interested!

qunfuz said...

It seems that I'm in agreement with the Syrian Brit. Please look at my post on the film: