Monday, January 15, 2007

It's only a film ...

I recently caught the latter end of a discussion on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 about Mel Gibson’s new film Apocalypto. It was archaeologist Mark Horton versus film critic Cosmo Landesman:

'The film,' Mark Horton said,‘was a farrago of half truths and colonialist misconceptions as well as confusing aspects of Mayan and Inca culture and being anachronistic by some 400 years'
‘So what. It’s only a film,' said Cosmo Landesman.
‘If so why not promote it as a fantasy instead of having actors use the Yucatec Maya language?’ countered Horton, who also pointed out that the film incorrectly presents the Maya as internecine thugs and makes no mention of their achievements in science and art, their calendric systems and the links between spirituality and their agricultural cycles, or the engineering feats of Mayan cities.
‘So what? It’s not an archaeology lecture,' said Cosmo Landesman.

Hmph. This was a sort of re-run to the objections over King Arthur, which was advertised as being the true story. In his review of Apocalyto (see link on his name above) Landesman says: The whole film looks authentic; it smells authentic.

To some extent that's what a really good historical story should conjure for the reader/audience. When it comes out on DVD, I daresay I shall have a look at it. But knowing Gibson and his history, I shall take it with a pinch of salt and try to appreciate the story he's showing and telling, and see if it captures me as it patently did for Landesman.


At 9:25 pm GMT, Blogger Martyn said...

I've been quite impressed by the trailers for Apocalypto. I'm put off though by Gibson's reputation for character assination of entire peoples in a three hour epic. I think I might wait for the DVD as well.

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