“ ‘Apocalypto’ is more than a high-velocity Hollywood adrenalin rush. It’s also, arguably, the ultimate reactionary movie, a savage rebellion against modernity that holds up technology and urbanity as poisonous to society. After warming his audience to the goodnatured rural villagers, [director Mel] Gibson reverses this trick and paints their urban counterparts as ghoulish and decadent, almost inhuman.
“The captives’ journey into the city is filled with nightmarish sights — slave markets, sickly children, chalk covered laborers in a stone quarry looking like holloweyed ghosts — and capped off with a terrifying scene of ritual human sacrifice. Gibson films it all like an ancient macabre freak show, implicating the sin-filled city, with its suffering masses, devious leaders and enslaving inventions, in the desecration of the simple agrarian life he presents at the beginning.
“The film sees modernity as an affront not only to man, but to nature, and it too has its revenge. [. . .] This is a movie that fights bloody tooth by bloody nail for peaceful, traditionalist values.”
Peter Suderman, writing on “Going Native,” Dec. 8 in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com