Wednesday, January 10, 2007
FBO: 'Is it OK to Watch Apocalypto?'
Mel Gibson may be a anti-Semitic, drunken loon, but it's hard to overlook the merit of his latest film epic, complete with torture and decapitations and face-eating jaguars: "Apocalypto." Consider this: here in the mobile HQ of Merida, the central plaza is lined with 16th-century buildings made from conquistador-wreckage of five Mayan pyramids -- the Spanish city itself is all older than New York City, yet only a mere newcomer to the city that once rested here from 600AD. Mayan civilization -- with cities of tens of thousands, bigger than Paris or London of its time -- is one of the Americas' finest cultural achievements. And until Mel Gibson got around to it, no one in Hollywood had bothered to touch on it before.
While some of the pre-release banter in the press has claimed some Mayanists are upset with the film -- 'too violent,' 'sacrifices are an exaggeration.' This is mere backlash to Mel the person, not the film. One quote was from someone who had only seen the trailer. Here in Merida, the film is still not released, and I'd love to sit in it with a Mexican audience. Mel being Mel, it's filmed in Yucatec language -- language, not a dialect as some articles claim -- and used no known actors. It's a story of a pre-European American civilization -- the Spanish, with a glaring priest glaring at pagans from a boat -- only appear in the final scene. This from Hollywood, which unravels yet another Rocky film -- what's next Three's Company with Steve Carrell? (Not a bad idea actually.)
Here in Mexico you see Maya cities everywhere -- Chichen Itza near Cancun, Uxmal outside Merida, or Palenque deeper in the jungle. You can wander past some overly renovated sites, even climb a few. Mel's film shows a representation of what it MIGHT have looked like. Slaves sold, slaves coaked in lime powder to build the stones for the pyramids, priests in ornate garb, everyone with multiple piercings, turquoise tattoos. Decapitated heads rolling down the steps of pyramids painted red.
This is Hollywood? Count the FBO in. The FBO is not a fan of Mel Gibson the man, but applauds the film.
In other news, the FBO is surveying potential failed bands of Mexico's Yucatan and Chiapas. So far, it's a no go.
Mobile HQ -- Merida, Mexico
* All photographs taken today at Labna, Kabah and Uxmal sites. The red hand print is supposedly from a Mayan worker at least half a millenium ago.