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Laramie Movie Scope:

Violent depiction of Mayan peoples becomes apocryphal fantasy

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(2006; Maya) Up until Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood) is trying to outrun a black jaguar in the forest, I took director Mel Gibson's violent action film (co-written and co-produced with Farhad Safinia) of Mayan peoples, just before the arrival of the Conquistadors, at face value.

At that point in the apocryphal adventure, in addition to being chased by the big cat, he's been wounded with an arrow through his side and being pursued by eight very angry men from whom he's just barely escaped execution in a brutal sport. He's recently witnessed a bloodthirsty ceremony - sacrificial appeasement to the gods - in which two of his companions were slit open on an altar atop a temple, the hearts removed, the heads lopped off and tumbled down a steep staircase to the populace (who refer to themselves as "the banner of the sun") below, followed by the decapitated corpses.

Jaguar Paw would have been next but for a propitious solar event, turning day into night, as prophesied by a shunned and sickly girlchild. Compounding his immediate plight, Jaguar Paw is worried about his very pregnant wife Seven (Dalia Hernández), whom he left at the bottom of a deep natural well with their young son Turtles Run when their village was attacked just before he was captured.

In his valiant effort to elude his foes, he leaps down a towering waterfall (more incredible than his surviving the plunge is that six of his assailants follow), frees himself from a pit of quicksand, and takes another arrow to his chest. And then comes the rain, filling up the well where his wife gives birth with her head barely out of water and her other child sitting on her shoulders …

The depiction of a primitive forest people in Central America - a group of men hunting a tapir, their village life (teasing a member who hasn't produced any children; listening to the Old Story Teller narrate the genesis of man, who after receiving attributes from animals still has a hole within, making him sad with an insatiable need to taking more from the world) - before they are attacked and their dwellings burned is fascinating.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2009 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)