Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Apocalypto

Posted by Jerry on March 12, 2007

Apocalypto is a movie that celebrates individual heroism to the fullest!

It was incredibly riveting and thrilling to watch the consistent, selfish, heroism of the protagonist, who uses his rational faculty, his reason, as his only tool of survival in the jungle, despite being a tribal member himself. This man, whose very survival is repeatedly threatened throughout the movie, is armed with practically nothing but the strength of his muscles powered by the decisiveness of his lucid and rational mind to secure his survival and that of his wife and kids. Throughout the movie, there are instances of how the hero adopts various strategies devised by his own rational mind, without the use of (or very minimal use of) weapons, to defeat and kill the rogues chasing him.

The movie even shows the deadly consequences of mysticism and superstition, and how those who surrendered their minds to some mystical notions either were helplessly lost and afraid of natural events and their own existence or were eventually killed gruesomely by man or beast.

Apocalypto stylishly dramatizes the moral and ethical principle of rational self-interest, of egoism. The hero of the movie has a clear and rational grasp of the hierachy of his values: when his tribal settlement was raided by brutes, he swiftly acts to secure the life of his wife (his highest value that makes life worth living) and kid, and then returns to fight for his other tribesmen. I was glad that the story did not take a malevolent turn by indulging us in the tragedy of him losing his wife and kid while he was “heroically” fighting for the lives of others. Even following this scene, the rest of the movie dramatizes the hero’s fierce battle for survival at all costs–for himself and for his family; and to this end, the hero is absolutely unmerciful and unapologetic in his actions, consistent with this beliefs, and in dedicated pursuit of his values. 

In short, this movie is the clearest portrayal of a proud, selfish, heroic, and rational achiever. Apocalypto celebrates human heroism. 

5 Responses to “Apocalypto”

  1. Jason said

    I can’t seem to find the interview online just now, but I heard Gibson’s meaning for the movie wasn’t rational thinking in the sea of fantasy, but a statement on the dangers of violence in society and what America may be heading toward–you know, more fanatical mumbo-jumbo…

    Actually, I did find this quote at a website with an interview with Mel:

    IESB: So getting back to the message of the film, that you were talking about earlier, fear being part of the message, the quote in the beginning that, “A great civilization is not conquered from without, until it has destroyed itself from within.” Was that more of an analogy of fear overtaking society?

    MG: Well, that’s part of it I think. Fear makes one react in ways you wouldn’t normally do because of fear. It makes the imbalance on the other side come out, you overreact or whatever it is and it’s like, it underlies a lot of things. It drives, fear can drive. But I think, it pretty true to say it, in analyzing any civilization that has ended it’s kind of crumbling from the inside out first before it was eventually engulfed by the outside. So it was sick, it’s like, when sharks go for the sick ones first. Lions go for the young weak members or the old members of the herd. You know, it’s like they’re overtaken by the outside because they are failing from inside in one way or another, you know.

    He was basically trying to say that society as a whole is turning away from his sky god and this is what’s going to happen… in an analogous sort of way… 😀

    I like your take better!

  2. I really liked it too. Great review.

  3. chakown said

    i like to watch the movie but its seems to tragedic that i cannot see a whole movie coz i’m to afraid. but its was the good movie that i ever seen.

  4. chakown said

    i like to watch the movie but its seems to tragedic that i cannot see a whole movie coz i;m to afraid but its was the gd movie that i ever seen

  5. […] Alone in the jungle, you must use your reason to ensure your survival and protection from animals and the elements. Insofar as you choose to live and act accordingly, you are acting morally–egoistically–and it doesn’t matter where you are doing this–whether alone in a jungle or in the middle of a bustling metropolis. […]

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