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When the end comes, not everyone is ready to go. 

Year: 2006 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Apocalypto

Director: Mel Gibson

Starring: Rudy Youngblood, Raoul Trujillo, Dalia Hernandez

The success of The Passion of the Christ may seem a daunting thing to follow, but with Apocalypto Mel Gibson proves his directing talents once again. The story follows a young Mayan hunter named Jaguar Paw (Youngblood) who lives in peace with his wife and son in the Mesoamerican rainforest. However, his village is attacked by Holcane warriors and he is dragged to the Mayan capital. In the fight of his life, he must escape to return to his family before they perish at the hands of his enemies.

Visually this film is breathtaking. The beautiful scenery and traditional Mayan dress are testimonies to the amount of hard work that went into constructing such a vivid image of Central American history. The attention to detail is particularly impressive with almost every cast member wearing unique jewellery and hairstyles. Gibson and his crew were clearly very concerned about keeping this film as true to life as possible. Great effort is invested into making the sacrificial ceremony, the way of life in villages and people’s relationships to religion and to each other historically accurate.

Gibson’s decision to have a cast of mainly unknown actors definitely paid off. A large proportion of the cast being of Mayan descent adds to the authenticity of the film and Gibson manages to get a convincing performance from everyone down to the last child. Youngblood’s emotional performance also makes the viewer feel for the character’s loss and makes the story all the more engaging.

This film isn’t for the faint hearted. Gibson doesn’t hold back on the gore front and viewers should expect to see brutal fight scenes and sacrificial ceremonies. Yet Apocalypto is not gratuitously violent. This is just another part of keeping the film historically accurate and Gibson does well in not trying to tone down the harsh living conditions of the Mayan people.

The dramatic music and fantastic acting makes this an engaging film that one cannot turn away from. At its core it is an action movie and doesn’t give the viewer two seconds to lose attention through terrific chase scenes and battles. It goes highly recommended to any fans of historical and action movies or anyone wanting to experience a culture different to any other.

Julia Huntenburg

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Screenings of this film:

2006/2007 Summer Term (35mm)