Thursday, September 13, 2007

Apocalypto: I liked it, and it is relevant.

First things first.
We're not dead. In fact, we just got steady internet service, so hopefully we'll be back with a vengance. We have, however, come to an impasse. We've read most of the easy (less than 500 page) books, and are left with, basically, The Fountainhead and Our Mutual Friend (ok Catch-22, The Mysterious Island, Tale of 2 Cities, etc). Aurora's got tons of posts to make--she's listened to the Odyssey and Alice in Wonderland on Librivox, she read the Tommyknockers....I'm almost done with the Time Quartet. It's had its ups and downs , including the death of its author, Madeleine L'Engle. She will be missed. In TV world, we've been watching The Prisoner! Also, I managed to get my sister and mom through the entire series up to this point. It was nice to see my mom hate and then love Sawyer, see the Sun-Jin switch, see the Michael switch, see Tess stay faithful to Sayid, or, as she calls him, " Number One Iraqi ".

And yes. Last night we watched Apocalypto. All the negative Mel Gibson buzz aside, it was a pretty decent film --it was amazing to look at, and steeped itself so deeply in a people and a time that is rarely represented, while at the same time being a pretty simple story of human determination, human flaws, and the problems that come with power. Sound familiar? Well, I think so. So does she...It didn't help that the film started out with a tapir (relative to the wild boar) getting gored by this really awesome really primitive trap. The film leads us to identify with this village of Mayan natives who are pretty unassuming and sometimes play jokes on each other and so forth. Then, lo and behold, the big-city punks come in, a bunch of the old dudes get killed, the young-and-able get captured, and all the kids get left behind. On the arduous walk to the big city, they encounter a small, really creepy child who tells the big-city meanies that their society is going to fall. She reminded me of vision-Walt. In the big city, they realize that they're not being taken to work, but to be sacrificed. Pretty brutally. Our hero escapes this fate because there is a solar eclipse which makes the boss guys declare that the sacrifice should stop--instead the rest of our village friends are taken out back and killed for sport with arrows, javelins, and big-ass rocks. Fortunately, our hero escapes, and spends the rest of the movie leading his captors on a chase through a waterfall, quicksand, poisonous snakes, man-eating jaguars, and that awesome impaling trap from the beginning of the film. Finally, he gets home to his wife and child--only to find the white man arriving on the beach. She says "What are we going to do?" and he says "We're going farther into the jungle," which is totally the right thing to do cuz the white man is a bitch. And the white man is just going to bring another big, ugly power structure that twists people into doing really bad things in the name of society.

SO. I think it sounds familiar--besides the jungle with big bodies of water nearby, there are some really interesting things going on with society asking people to put a really low value on human life...which the corporations on LOST could easily be doing...which real-world society (which Lost draws from) does all the time with our really dumb wars and police actions, and which lots of people stand dumbly by for, or cheer on. But hey, isn't there a temple in the big city of Apocalypto? So maybe the bad guys here are sort of like the Others, with a pretty flawed power structure and a lot of myth and superstition to bolster them. Ultimately, though, I think the movie is about the inevitable rise and fall of civilizations--not just these Mayans, but Rome and the U.S., and everybody. The thing is--I could see this story playing out on the Lost island hundreds of years ago--see it being played out now--and see it being played out again on the future island. And that is spooky, and also totally awesome. The power of the same story playing out over and over again, unable to be stopped, only briefly avoided, is part of why Apocalypto is good, and why LOST is great.

And that's that. I just found out Our Mutual Friend is on Librivox. That is going to make things 10 times easier.

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