I took in Apocalypto last night, and woke up thinking about it this morning. It’s probably the most thought-provoking film I’ve seen in years. Loved it. The ending had the hair standing up on the back of my neck, with a reveal that was so profound it bordered on comedy. Brilliant. You’ll get it when you see it.
With a complete absence of spoken English language, the two-plus-hour film provided one of those rare journeys that are more akin to a good read than a good movie. By the time we reach the end of our ride, we’re so absorbed into the story that language becomes irrelevant. Contrary to what I was expecting, this film is not a sweeping history-based epic that spans generations, but rather is a largely visual tale of one man’s hellacious experience that takes place over the course of two or three days. A simple, universal, stripped down kick-ass action movie with a historical twist.
I feel lucky to have spent some time in the Yucatan a couple years ago, which gave me a first-hand appreciation of the setting that our story takes place in. I could feel the unbearable humid heat, I could almost smell the moist stench of death. Thinking back to my day at Chichen Itza, I imagined trying to run for my life barefoot through the jungle. Horrifyingly impossible.
Anyhow, while in the Yucatan and learning about the Mayan people, I was fascinated with their mathematical history. I found it particularly trippy that it was Mayans, not the Egyptians, that were the first humans to wrap their brains around the concept of zero. I also killed a little bit of focused time with a fellow traveler studying the ancient Mayan vigesimal (base-twenty) numeral system. Intelligent people.
On the tour to Chichen Itza, we stopped off at a Mayan village that sold jewelry with customized name engravings. Below is their slip of paper I’ve had on my desk for a couple years showing the Mayan alphabet. Great tattoo material!