Mel Gibson Shooting “Apocalypto” in Mayan Language

Mel Gibson is shooting a new film, “Apocalypto,” in Mexico. The entire script is in ancient Mayan.

Mel Gibson to shoot epic movie in Mayan language (Reuters)

Actor Mel Gibson, who turned a Latin script on the crucifixion of Christ into box office gold last year, is in Mexico to shoot his latest film: an action movie shot entirely in an ancient Mayan tongue. The star turned independent director was in the eastern state of Veracruz this week where he is to film “Apocalypto,” a thriller set in an ancient Mayan settlement and shot in the Yucatec dialect.

“It’s set before the Conquest, so there are no European faces, and we are using mostly indigenous people and actors from Mexico City,” Gibson, sporting a long beard, said at a news conference in the port city of Veracruz. “There’s still a lot of mystery to the Mayan culture, but when all is said and done, it’s just the backdrop to what I’m doing — creating an action adventure of mythic proportions,” he said, blinking before a bank of flash lights.


Gibson said the story would be told through the eyes of a Mayan man, his family and village, and would touch on universal themes about “civilizations and what undermines them,” but he declined to go into details about the plot. He said Mayan myths from the Popol Vuh sacred texts formed part of his research for the film, which also drew on input from indigenous groups and Spanish mission texts from the 1700s and Mayan language translators.

“A lot of it I just made up, and when I checked it out with historians and archeologists, it wasn’t that far wrong,” he said.

I can’t imagine people wanting to sit through this but, then, I never thought people would flock to see a movie in Aramaic about Jesus being tortured.

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.