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Is Apocalypto Authentic?

There is a lot of controversy about whether Apocalypto, the new Mel Gibson film about the ancient Mayans, is historically correct. Despite Gibson's desire to create a work that reflects the truth about the Mayan world, one expert says that the film is not authentic.

Professor Michael Aakhus says, "If you like action films, you should enjoy it, but if you are going to learn history, stick to your books." Aakhus thinks that Gibson exaggerated the violent aspect of Maya culture. He says, "Human sacrifice did occur, but not to the extent that is shown in the film." He adds that, "Ritualized killing is not unknown to us. Our own practice of capital punishment, when looked back on in 500 years, I am sure will appear brutal and senseless."

Apocalypto was filmed on site in the Yucatec dialect, which is used in the northern section of the Maya region. Aakhus says, "I had hoped to see some great images of the Maya buildings and wonderful costumes, but I have to admit that I saw neither. The fabulous aspects of material culture that we see in the reliefs, paintings, and burial remains imitated for the film looked poorly conceived. The textiles which the Maya to this day pride themselves on looked more like rags, and the body ornament may have been jade, but looked like plastic.

"The sets and buildings showed that plaster was an important finish to the buildings but many of them were left unplastered and not properly painted. The high culture was portrayed as brutal and decadent which did not provide insight into the remarkable art, architecture, books, literature and advanced science of the Maya."

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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