Mel Gibson, of course, is very far from the only filmmaker who makes a fetish of gore. What’s so bothersome about Gibson, at least in this movie, was captured by LA Times film critic Kenneth Turan in his NPR review this morning. Turan notes that “Apocalyto” begins with that famous quote from historian Will Durant: “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within.” Gibson’s apparent message to us with this film is that our own decadence could easily lead to our destruction. A solid and necessary point, to be sure. But Turan points out that by any sane measure, our civilization’s capacity for reveling in extreme violence is a sign of decline. On evidence of this film, says Turan, Gibson is not the cure for the problem, but part of it. ~Rod Dreher
Rod offers a sober and appropriate corrective to the Apocalypto enthusiasm that I have been indulging lately. He makes an important argument that this is a work of art that incites the passions and may even indulge something of the demonic. I think I will be going to see it, probably today, but even if it proves to be as well-made as Peter and others claim I may not be able to recommend it.