Husband fell asleep with the TV on last night so I woke up at 2:00am to turn it off and got hooked on a movie instead.  I had to watch the whole thing, all the way until 4:00am.  It’s definitely not the kind of movie I ever would have chosen to rent or watch, and if I hadn’t been half asleep I would  have changed the channel before I got the chance to get hooked on it.

Even when I felt myself getting hooked on it, I certainly didn’t think I’d get so hooked I’d watch for two hours.  But I did (sigh).

Apocalypto, I discovered just now, was directed by Mel Gibson in 2006. The star actors are Rudy YoungbloodGerardo Taracena, Raoul Trujillo and Dalia Hernández

I like Mel Gibson.  He is probably an alcoholic like me (based on news stories of DUIs and drunk fights over the years), so I like him because of that (ha ha, alcoholics are just cool—once they’re sober, that is!).  Also, he is Catholic; and I like that.  Plus he had eleven children; and I like that, since I’m one of eleven children. Plus, I loved the Lethal Weapon movies and of course, The Passion of the Christ!

This movie used all subtitles and is described like this:

As the Mayan kingdom faces its decline, the rulers insist the key to prosperity is to build more temples and offer human sacrifices. Jaguar Paw, a young man captured for sacrifice, flees to avoid his fate.

Sounds like nothing I’d be interested in AT ALL; so why couldn’t I stop watching?

It was the themes of the movie that kept me watching, hoping good would triumph over evil.  I had to find out for sure that the good guy won in the end.

The themes were family, hard and simple work, love, the beauty and gift of children, spirituality, the ugliness of hedonism and materialism and violence, the result of what the world becomes when human life loses its inherent dignity.

I could easily make comparisons to today, how the dignity of the person is losing the human battle because of abortion…  Abortion is society’s latest sacrifice, society’s secular “sacrament.”  Abortion has become the line in the sand, separating us into camps. The difference between acknowledging the inherent dignity of the human person is paramount and denying that it is.

Back to the movie.  It started with a group of guys going out hunting…they were friends and joking with each other and their human relations with each other were so normal—even though in the initial scene they were cutting the heart and liver out of a wild boar.

Then, these “savages”(they looked like savages to me) men friends brought their kill home to their tribe, their wives and kids–the love they had, the care and protection they had for their wives and children was absolutely beautiful. And the respect for the old. In one scene, a mother-in-law was crazy-making, yelling at her son-in-law who wasn’t producing any grandchildren for her…  and the scene was funny to me.

It was a  reminder and glimpse into how humans are truly all the same. No matter where we are from, what color or religion or nationality or political persuasion we are, all we really want in life is connection, love and faith, family–these “savages” had a faith of their own, a spirituality that helped them conquer fear and bond with one another. The oldest man gathered the whole community together at night to talk about  this spirit.

It wasn’t an “individual” faith–each wasn’t striving for “self-actualization.”  It was a true community.  But they each displayed such endearing individual personalities and gifts–Gibson did a great job developing the main characters so we fell in love with them.

And still it’s all in subtitles, as they’re speaking tribe savage language the whole movie.

The young men held their wives and let their children climb all over them.  The wives smiled and laughed and loved their husbands and children.  They joked with one another, messed around, got serious sometimes, and deeply loved; but the bottom line was they were just like us.

Then the bad guys came and took it all away.  And what I liked about this movie is the bad guys weren’t Europeans or Americans or whomever we have re-written history to show who the bad guys were…someone from the outside, someone else…

No, the bad guys were from within their same race and country—not in their individual tribe, but of their larger society…people that spoke their same language and looked like them but who had become caught up in the “world.”  Big similarities to what is happening today within our Catholic church.  The enemies are from within our faith–and they have gotten themselves caught up into the world. Whether pro-choice Catholics or child-abusing priests, the enemies are from within.

In this Mayan civilization the people in the big city followed “false gods,” lived the seven deadly sins…And when these bad guys from within came and raped the women, burned the village and took the men as slaves, they brought them to their “city” of sloth, greed, lust, wrath, envy, pride, gluttony… it was horrible.  And, these men we had just seen loving their families were now dragged through the dirty city filled with thousands of people. Sin was everywhere.

And since the bad guys couldn’t love, they offered human sacrifices to their gods to try to please them.  Human life was not valued. There was no inherent dignity in simply being human.  And these family men were going to be the sacrifices.  They cut out their hearts and then cut off their heads.

Right before the protagonist of the movie (did he even have a name? oh yes, “Jaguar Paw.”) was about to be killed there was a total eclipse of the sun; so the bad guys took that as a sign from the gods that they didn’t need any more sacrifices.  And so they stopped cutting off the heads and were just going to take these family men away and kill them for sport, but one of them (the protagonist) got away.

For an hour–from 3:00am to 4:00am, the chase was on.  The bad guys were killed off one by one, as the family man protagonist guy persevered—got back to his pregnant wife and child, whom he had stashed away in a deep well in the beginning  of the movie while his village was being pillaged.  He made it back to her, saved her and the movie ended as he and his wife went deeper into the forest to make a “new beginning.’  We’re left to assume they eventually set up home again, hunted, loved, lived and laughed as they rebuilt their community/family.

So even though they went through so much awfulness, goodness prevailed. And they were back to seeking happiness in the simple things, love, family.

If you want to read more about Mel Gibson from a Catholic alcoholic perspective, check out this awesome article from October 25, 2010 by Stuart Reid in the Catholic Herald UK.