Sunday, March 11, 2007

'Apocalypto' upset me. I saw the movie today and am a little shaken, a little worried and very hassled. All those 'littles' do not even amount to much in totality, so I must rant lest I lose sight of this disjunctured moment.

The movie has received bad reviews galore from my academic kinsmen, so I will attempt to summarize my main problems with the film.

(1)Biography (which as an advisor warned me is always an easy way out) : Mel Gibson's religious leanings as well as his penchant for violence as spectacle somehow make this movie, the choice of period and the depiction of sacrifice easily comprehensible in terms of his vision. This vision has often been fundamentalist, controversial, short-shrifted in terms of writing and in this case, prominently displays Hollywood style shrugging of responsibility in the appropriation of history. A film is a text and as such, will be read... and while no author can completely match intent with effect, he/ she will be held accountable. While this might seem to unconsciously validate fatwah-style bans and reactions, the only thing I take umbrage to is the author pretending all ignorance of any political involvement. Slavery, conquest, genocide and violence are political statements. And that's that on Mr.Gibson.
(2) The white man must always provide the moment of redemption and saving grace(Also refer: Blood Diamond); and what's with the lack of all subtlety and the horrible stereotypification of characters?

Last, but not the least....this is probably personal, non-specific and at best tangentially set off by the film...

(4) violence and banality...I, who have trouble, punching somebody in the face (even when I am asked to; this of course by the guy teaching me how to punch) have no qualms yelling at students when they don't get something, or hanging up on an ex, or ignoring street urchins, or cutting off people. And the violence in the film disturbs me probably precisely because of this. In its consistency, its repetitiveness and relentlessness, it performs every genocide, every war crime, every act of mass destruction that we have become so used to reading about in the newspaper. To the point where it becomes banal. Another body part. Another performance of pain. And just another daily life. No comprehendo.

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