We are exposed to history and cultures in many different ways. While we study history in our Social Studies class, there are many more possible ways to experience and learn about our worlds past times and old ways. We continuously study about them from the news, traveling, musicians, theater plays and even Hollywood movies. The movie that I selected to expand my knowledge of history was Apocalypto. Through the events depicted in the film, history of the Mayans became a lot easier to understand.
The movie Apocalypto depicted events that took place during the time of post-classic Mayan civilization, and also the time of the Mayan Decline (“Apocalypto. ” Wikipedia. org. Wikipedia, 17 April 2011. Web. 17 April 2011. ). The movie was set in Yucatan, Mexico, where Mayan civilizations used to existed (“Apocalypto. ” Wikipedia. org. Wikipedia, 17 April 2011. Web. 17 April 2011. ). Most Mayan tribes were polytheistic, meaning they would believe in more than one god at once (Henderson, John. The World of the Ancient Maya. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997. Print. ).
As depicted in the film, Mayan invaders needed sacrifices to keep their sun god, Kukulkan, pleased, and also help with the Mayan drought that was taking place. They believed that if they used people as sacrifices, the God would accept them and be satisfied, so the God who controlled the drought would stop it from continuing (“Apocalypto. ” Wikipedia. org. Wikipedia, 17 April 2011. Web. 17 April 2011. ). They wouldn’t use their own people because they needed them for labor or they were of high authority, so that was when they needed to go out, ravage and destroy other tribes’ civilizations and take them captive.
Raiders took the captive tribe members and led them to the metropolis. When they reached their religious figure, usually someone who had a spiritual connection to gods, they would begin sacrifices (Henderson, John. The World of the Ancient Maya. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981. Print. ). They began by cutting out captives’ hearts, then beheaded them and rolled the bodies down the steps into the crowd of people from the main city. This would keep going on until the religious figure sensed that the god has had enough sacrifices and was satisfied with what he has received.
After this, the left over captives were disposed of and typically killed through an intense race from shooting bows and arrows (Henderson, John. The World of the Ancient Maya. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981. Print. ). The Mayan decline could have also been caused by warfare, disease, and loss of trade routes, not only the drought which was displayed in the movie (Lovgren, Stefan. “Apocalypto Tortures The Facts, Expert Says. ” Nationalgraphic. org. National Geographic Society, 8 December 2006. Web. 17 April 2011. . An issue faced by the Mayan tribe because of the decline was a probable wipeout of their civilization (outside information). In this case, some civilizations weren’t as advanced as others, and the number of civilians was already low to begin with. Being taken captive and offered to a different tribe’s god is enough to make a town completely shattered (outside information). There were also many diseases at the time, and it wasn’t unusual for captives to be quickly infected with the plague (“Apocalypto. ” Wikipedia. org.
Wikipedia, 17 April 2011. Web. 17 April 2011. ). Key figures during the post classic Mayan period were obviously the Mayan tribes. But, as depicted in the film, the spiritual leaders and gods also had taken part. The strict religion and sacrifices needed had fed into the already taking place Mayan decline. Killing and capturing others for sacrifices to gods took a tremendous part in population decrease (outside information). After the Mayan collapse, some cities were unbelievably, able to regain a large portion of control and began to prosper.
Some cites weren’t as affected as others, so those who weren’t hit as hard with the declines issues, were able to survive until the Spanish eventually came in and conquered one of the last Mayan city-states. Some historical researchers don’t refer to the Mayan civilization as having a so called “collapse” because some tribes were able to thrive after it, like the Chichen Itza city-state which briefly united a large precentage of the Mayan land (“Classic Maya Collapse. ” Wikipedia. org. Wikipedia, 10 April 2011. Web. 17 April 2011. ).
Although, the Mayan economy wasn’t at its highest around this time period. Most Mayan civilizations had a large part in trading, and relied largely on agriculture imports and exports. Some of their main trade routes they used had been closed off, so population slowly but surely began to decrease because of lack of goods and food from others, and having such a heavy reliance on trading. Also, the contagious plague had spread and reached the Mayans crops’, so they wouldn’t be able to trade produce nor use it as food (“Classic Maya Collapse. ” Wikipedia. org.
Wikipedia, 10 April 2011. Web. 17 April 2011. ). Failing agriculture, unavailable trade routes, disease, and a falling population wasn’t what the Mayans had in mind. They believed that since their gods controlled everything, the events happened because the spiritual beings weren’t happy enough, so the sacrifices of others began in order to regain the gods’ happiness. Then, the crashing contentment of gods had led to invasions and raiders coming in to capture people for sacrifices, in hope of making the economy and everything in general much better (“Classic Maya Collapse. Wikipedia. org. Wikipedia, 10 April 2011. Web. 17 April 2011. ). The account of history through this Hollywood movie left a good impression on what happened during the Mayan time period. It left a visual image of what they were put through, rather than just learning in our Social Studies class. Apocalypto displayed the time of the Mayans, and their struggles through history to maintain their source of life.
Bibliography “”Apocalypto” Tortures the Facts, Expert Says. ” Daily Nature and Science News and Headlines | National Geographic News. N. p. , n. d. Web. 7 Apr. 2011. . “Apocalypto – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. ” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N. p. , n. d. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. . “Classic Maya collapse – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. ” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N. p. , n. d. Web. 17 Apr. 2011. . Henderson, John S.. The world of the ancient Maya . Ithaca N. Y. : Cornell University Press , 1981. Print. Critique Apocalypto was a very good movie. I enjoyed all of the action, and how intense the movie was. It was a bit bloody and gory, but that just added to show how serious the events were.
I also thought it was very interesting to see what kind of things they used to do before we existed. The sacrifices the tribes made were a bit disturbing; to watch them rip out a (fake) heart, but it was interesting to see how they cherished the human body and what it did for them. Although the entertainment value was pleasing, historical accuracy wasn’t the best. The movie shows the main character living in a mainly hunting forest, which isn’t something Mayans would do. Mayans relied heavily on agriculture and spent most of their time farming and trading, rather than hunting.
The hunting lifestyle was depicted in the film, which is historically incorrect. In Apocalypto, their houses are made out of sticks, formed into a hut style in a forest. Maya villagers would typically live in more formed and stable stone structures, on a cleared plot of land and not the wild. Also, the villagers displayed in Apocalypto are clueless of such a place when they arrive at the raiders’ city. In ancient Maya, even the smallest of civilizations would know and be connected to some sort of political center, so the tribes’ clueless-ness is inaccurate (Lovgren, Stefan. Apocalypto Tortures The Facts, Expert Says. ” Nationalgraphic. org. National Geographic Society, 8 December 2006. Web. 17 April 2011. ). At the end of the movie, it shows Spaniards arriving on their boats. This didn’t happen until a few centuries after the Mayan decline, which is what the movie displays. If it was to display the arrival of the Spaniards, the main characters would have to have been dead. The movie was trying to mix two very different time periods. Even though there are many historical inaccuracies, there were a few rights.
The movie shows the king and high power wearing jade jewelry, which was common for high Mayan power. It also displays the downfalls correctly, like the undernourished and sick civilians, and the towns’ disrepair. It also shows dazzling pyramids, which was common to be a part of the center of town. While the captives were being sacrificed, the Mayans looked pleased, which is historically correct- they did get delight from sacrifices (Lovgren, Stefan. “Apocalypto Tortures The Facts, Expert Says. ” Nationalgraphic. org.
National Geographic Society, 8 December 2006. Web. 17 April 2011. ). Overall, the movie did have some inaccuracies, but all in all was very enjoyable. Reflection Before this project, I had watched Apocalypto a few times before and I really liked it. I was familiar with the film and it wasn’t foreign to me, so that’s why I decided to choose it. I learned that the Mayan time period did have a really serious downfall. I never knew that; I just thought they had amazing achievements like the calendar, and never had too many problems.
Although, I was surprised to see how many historical inaccuracies there were in the movie- I never knew it had that many! The most difficult part of this project was definitely finding out the accuracies, considering I tried to base a lot of the facts to the movie. I overcame this by doing extensive research and comparing my facts to Angelica’s. This was a really good way for me to learn about history because it required me to do a lot more research and get the real facts, rather than those from just the movie. It helped me to learn a lot more about part of our world’s history.