pocalypto: When the Mayans Meet Cortez
The movie “Apocalypto” by Mel Gibson was a supposed depiction of the Classic Mayan Empire towards its decline. Today many anthropologists simply cringe when they hear the word Apocalypto. From personally watching it, I found it to be chock full of inaccuracies, inconsistencies and very little information or depictions that were consistent with what I have learned from our class. While there are some redeeming factors, for the most part, it was a disappointment, historically.
I was bothered from the very beginning how they depict the way of living for Jaguar Paw’s village. The movie begins with a very intense scene where they are chasing down a boar that they ultimately catch and eat and cut up to bring back to their village. What was wrong with this picture? Everything I’ve ever learned about the Mayan culture has told me three things: Beans, Corn and Squash. These are the staple foods of the Maya, and this means that they are an agricultural people. Even the pre-classic Mayan culture in sites such as Cuello (roughly 1000B.C.) was an egalitarian people who farmed these three crops. The Mayan people were never known as a hunter-gatherer civilization. I’m sure that the Maya people did hunt and eat meat for their proteins and whatnot, but the fact remains that the first time we see any sort of crops is more than halfway through the movie when Jaguar Paw is running away from the soldiers in the “bad” city. Here we also see an inaccuracy as pointed out by Professor Russell and that is that the corn is all in very straight rows. Furthermore, we learned that all three of the staple crops were grown in the same spots for important reasons; here we just see corn.
Something else that struck me as odd when watching the movie and was also mentioned in Stone’s “Orcs in Loincloths” was the geography. Throughout Apocalypto we see a very mountainous region with rivers, and plush jungle, etc. As we learned in class, the Mayan culture...