Old Story Teller: "And a Man sat alone, drenched deep in sadness. And all the animals drew near to him and said, 'We do not like to see you so sad. Ask us for whatever you wish and you shall have it.' The Man said, 'I want to have good sight.' The vulture replied, 'You shall have mine.' The Man said, 'I want to be strong.' The jaguar said, 'You shall be strong like me.' Then the Man said, 'I long to know the secrets of the earth.' The serpent replied, 'I will show them to you.' And so it went with all the animals. And when the Man had all the gifts that they could give, he left. Then the owl said to the other animals, 'Now the Man knows much, he'll be able to do many things. Suddenly I am afraid.' The deer said, 'The Man has all that he needs. Now his sadness will stop.' But the owl replied, 'No. I saw a hole in the Man, deep like a hunger he will never fill. It is what makes him sad and what makes him want. He will go on taking and taking, until one day the World will say, 'I am no more and I have nothing left to give.'"
Set in the period before Spanish contact in Petén, Guatemala, around the year 1511, I was really looking forward to this movie about the Mayan empire.
What we got was not really a historical movie about the Mayans, but a movie about the barbarity of a civilization that was about to end. We see the contrast of the family oriented country people as contrasted with the barbaric people that 'civilization' has produced.
The movie has as a backdrop the brutality and barbaric practices of the Mayans but doesn't show any of the accomplishments of this very advanced civilization. It makes me wonder if Mel Gibson was more concerned about showing the need for a Christian influence on their culture than he was in showing the civilization as it actually was.
I really liked that the movie used the Mayan language and the family scenes in the country were great. The scenes in the city were terrifying and beautiful at the same time. The movie is showing how power (and religion) corrupt.
I just wish that if you were going to use spend all that money to present a civilization that we could have been presented with a more balanced portrayal of it. The movie was action packed and very exciting and it was also beautifully filmed. There are a lot of things I really liked about this movie, but I wish it wasn't so negative. The Inquisition that was taking place in Spain wasn't too pretty either, but there were still positive things going on in the Spanish and European cultures. The Mayans civilization accomplished great things, but you wouldn't learn that from watching this movie.
The movie ends with the good guys getting off the boats (the Conquistadors), who will soon put an end to this barbaric civilization (the only problem is that they were probably just as barbaric as the Mayans).