[[quoteright:299:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Apocalypto01_7091.jpg]]

->''"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within."''

''Apocalypto'' is a film by Creator/MelGibson.

Filmed entirely in the Yucatec Mayan language, it deals with a village of rainforest tribesmen who are attacked by an ambush of city-dwelling Mayans; many are captured for use as slaves, human sacrifices and target practice. One young captive, a hunter named Jaguar Paw, desperately tries to make his escape back to his pregnant wife and child, who are trapped in a well at the mercy of the elements. His pursuers will have no mercy.

This has been called "TheChase movie [[SternChase to end all chase movies]]", done entirely on foot with all manner of obstacles on the way.
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!!This film provides examples of:

* AlwaysABiggerFish: The powerful Mayan civilization is abusing the smaller groups of forest-dwelling natives to feed their own greed. At the end of the film [[spoiler: the Europeans arrive]].
* AluminiumChristmasTrees: Many aspects of the depiction of Mayan civilization were criticized as unrealistic, but many have basis in fact. The Maya did practice human sacrifice, did wear blue body paint, and the Maya Civilization still existed when the Spaniards arrived.
* AndShowItToYou: Aside from the obvious, Zero Wolf also talks about peeling off Jaguar Paw's skin and wearing it for him to see.
* AnnoyingArrows: Jaguar Paw gets pierced by an arrow through the abdomen, and we see what a horrific weapon a bow is. Yet he keeps on running like nothing happened, and the wound heals over time.
* ArcherArchetype: Snake Ink, the most cold and intelligent of the slavers, is an awesome archer. At one point, he shoots an arrow into the sky and pierces a running man through the head.
* ArtisticLicenseAstronomy: A solar eclipse is significant to the action. That night, a full moon is significant to the action.
* ArtisticLicenseHistory: The film depicts a Classic Period Maya city, seemingly during the Maya Collapse of the southern lowlands, who speak Yucatec Maya (spoken on the northern lowlands), at the same time of the Spaniards' arrival and the smallpox epidemic they brought (that happened in the Postclassic, 600 years later), in which human sacrifices are celebrated en masse (only the Aztec Empire did human sacrifice on that scale). There is also a hunter-gatherer tribe that does not know of the existence of cities, in a region where agriculture had been the dominant form of subsistence for thousands of years and where you couldn't throw a rock without hitting a pyramid.
* AwesomeMcCoolName: Zero Wolf and Jaguar Paw.
* AxeCrazy: Zero Wolf, the leader of the Holcane slavers and BigBad of the film.
* {{Badass}}: Jaguar Paw. While he is not physically impressive, he still manages to outrun his pursuers and uses his hunter skills and affinity with nature to kill them all.
* BadBoss: Zero Wolf starts out as a competent chieftain and a AFatherToHisMen, but after his [[spoiler: son's tragic death]], he degenerates into completely AxeCrazy behavior against everyone around him. During the obsessive hunt through the jungle for Jaguar Paw, the slavers are motivated by fear of their boss more than anything else.
* BeatStillMyHeart: The human sacrifices. Also Jaguar Paw's prophetic dream, which has the sacrificed ghost of the refugee he met the previous day holding up his beating heart before begging Jaguar Paw to run.
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler:Jaguar Paw returns in time]], but 95% of the cast are dead, and then there's the InferredHolocaust.
* BlowGun: Jaguar Paw improvises one with leafs. He creates the darts with thorns, poisons them with frog venom, and uses them against his pursuers.
* BreakTheCutie: The village children being left behind.
* ButtMonkey: Poor old Blunt.
* CaliforniaDoubling: Although they did film in Mexico, they picked Veracruz (in the middle of the gulf coast) to double for Yucatan and the Caribbean, this is especially noticeable in the scenes on the beach.
* CharacterFocus: From the point where Jaguar Paw escapes, most of the other characters (except Seven) drop out of the story and it focuses all on Jaguar Paw running away from Zero Wolf, leading to a lot of instances of WhatHappenedToTheMouse
* TheChase
* ChekhovsGun: The tapir trap.
* ConvenientEclipse: The Mayan leaders secretly know that an eclipse will occur during their sacrifices, since this is the whole point of the show. It conveniently occurs ''just before'' our hero was to be sacrificed.
* CostumePorn: The jade-covered Mayan elite, particularly the high priests and the royal family.
* CoversAlwaysLie: [[spoiler:Middle Eye]] is not the main character of the film, or even the main villain, he's simply the one with most distinctive sillhouette.
* CrapsackWorld: The film shows the Mayan civilization in a horrific state of decadence, scourged with drought, famine and diseases. We see fields of rotting crops, slaves burning down entire forests to make lime dust, young children dying of plague, and poor people who have been starved to the point of insanity. In response to all this, the priests are demanding more {{Human Sacrifice}}s. This is essentially the meaning behind the opening quote of the movie, the Mayan civilization was long since killing itself before the conquistadors came.
* CreepyChild: The plague-stricken little girl who cryptically foretells the events of the rest of the film in an eerie voice.
* CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass: Blunt, the big and gentle guy who is the village ButtMonkey at first.
* DamselOutOfDistress: Seven, Jaguar Paw's wife. [[PregnantBadass Pregnant]] AND trapped with her other young child in an underground cave. Whilst in said cave she helps stitch her son's injury, bashs in the skull of a rabid primate, and still manages to climb halfway up the cave to freedom. Sadly she falls, quickening her impending labor. When her contractions begin and the cave is filling with water her first instinct is to hoist her son onto her shoulders. Oh, and she also [[spoiler:delivers her baby like this while being almost drowned herself]].
* DeusExMachina: [[spoiler: In the form of European missionaries and an Eclipse.]]
* DoomedHometown: The village in the forest.
* DreamingOfThingsToCome: Jaguar Paw's nightmare in which he sees the refugee's leader with his heart in his hand and telling him to run.
* DrowningPit: Jaguar Paw's pregnant wife and child get trapped in one when the rain begins falling.
* DwindlingParty: The slavers.
* TheEvilEmpire: The Mayan city.
* EndOfAnAge: It's in the title, the Mayan civilization is on its last legs, and [[spoiler: the Spaniards have arrived to the Americas]].
* EverythingsBetterWithMonkeys: Played straight with the pet monkey Jaguar Paw's family keeps in the village. Subverted with the crazed monkey that attacks the wife and son in the cave.
* EverythingsWorseWithBees: Worse for the pursuing slavers, anyway.
* EverythingTryingToKillYou: During the chase through the jungle, many of the slavers fall to the nature's elements, these don't affect Jaguar Paw since ''he is a hunter'' in his element.
* {{Gorn}}:
** The human sacrifices are especially horrific, when the victims are pulled over an altar and a priest cuts their chests open. And pulls out their dripping, [[BeatStillMyHeart beating hearts]] while they are still alive and kicking. He then proceeds to decapitate them, then bounce their heads down a long flight of stairs, followed by their corpse, to the cheering of the crowds below. This is TruthInTelevision, for the most part (the body wasn't decapitated on top of the pyramid).
** The bit when a slaver is being mauled by a jaguar is also shown in lovely detail. At one point you see her start to rip his face off.
* FreezeFrameBonus:
** At one point in one of the trailers, it turns into a rapid-firing seizure-inducing bombardment of striking images. But a single image depicts Mel Gibson standing around with his buddies on the set with a big smile on his face.
** And in the original cut, there's [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jT3woa2INr8 a still frame]] of [[WheresWaldo Waldo]] lying amongst the corpses in a mass grave.
* GoshHornet: A rare live-action example, and not played for laughs. Jaguar Paw wraps a beehive in a massive leaf and chucks it at his pursuers. It works pretty well.
* HeroicSacrifice: The fatally wounded [[spoiler:Blunt]] gives Jaguar Paw a chance to escape by delaying Cut Rock.
* HighPressureBlood: [[spoiler:Middle Eye]]'s fatal head wound spurts quite a lot.
* HumanSacrifice: Lots and lots of them.
* HunterTrapper: Jaguar Paw, his father, most of the village men. Jaguar Paw's ostensibly a master of it though.
* ImprobableHairstyle: Like you wouldn't believe. That said, real-life Mayan hairstyles did get pretty elaborate, if their art is any indication. The Mayan noblewomen look especially cool, with their bodies painted green and massive headdresses made of jade snakes.
* IronicEcho: While defending the village, Jaguar Paw almost kills Middle Eye before being overwhelmed by Zero Wolf, Middle Eye in mockery nicknames him "Almost" because of this. On their battle to the death, Middle Eye barely misses hitting Jaguar Paw's head which gives him the opening to deliver the decisive blow.
* IWantGrandkids: Blunt's mother-in-law really, really does. Poor ButtMonkey Blunt, this is the day when the entire hunting party decides to play practical jokes on him regarding his impotence.
* JustBeforeTheEnd: If the title is any indication, not to mention the [[spoiler:arrival of the Europeans]].
* KarmicDeath: [[spoiler: Zero Wolf, Snake Ink, Middle Eye.]]
* LawOfInverseFertility: Blunt and his wife dearly want to have kids, but simply can't seem to have any. Though there is a subtle suggestion that the problem may be that Blunt isn't doing the right ''sort'' of sex to get his wife pregnant (the scene where the chili pepper gag's climax is revealed; Blunt needs to soak his abused genitals, but his wife is trying to desperately put out the flames ''in her mouth'').
* MamaBear: The attacking jaguar.
* MeaningfulEcho: The speech made by Flint Sky about his forefathers and his descendants hunting in the forest, repeated in defiance by Jaguar Paw later on.
* MeaningfulName: Jaguar Paw, the man who brings the jaguar.
* {{Mayincatec}}: The religion seems mostly Aztec just to start. The Mayans didn't sacrifice humans to Kukulkan (their sun god).
** Also, the sheer scale of the human sacrifices plus the practice of raiding smaller villages and settlements in order to capture slaves and sacrifices' victims, as portrayed in the film, are more reminiscent of the Aztecs than the Maya. Although WordOfGod has said that what he wanted to do was to depict the [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything decadence of a once proud civilization, brought by political corruption, environmental collapse and that was now resorting to sacrifice its own people]]; which, according to archeological finds, were some of the probable causes for the Maya collapse in the southern lowlands. This would not have worked had TheEvilEmpire of the film been the Aztecs, since they were on the apex of their splendor when the Spaniards arrived.
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: The creepy little girl's prophecy ''did'' come true...
* MindLinkMates: Jaguar Paw and Seven seem to be this. When Jaguar Paw has a minor HeroicBSOD after realizing he'll be sacrificed, Seven (who is trapped in the cave) physically shows the distress he is experiencing and reminds him to "come back" to her. When Blunt wishes Jaguar Paw to "journey well", Jaguar Paw responds with "I can't go now."
* MonsterClown: The high priest at the temple ceremony could be considered a late Stone Age example, since his eye makeup is reminiscent of a circus clown's and he is assisted in the sacrificial rite by grotesquely masked {{Mooks}} who could be said to stand in for sideshow freaks. He also has a particularly chilling EvilLaugh.
* MyNameIsInigoMontoya: "I am Jaguar Paw, son of Flint Sky. My father hunted this forest before me. My name is Jaguar Paw. I am a hunter! This is my forest! And my sons will hunt it with their sons after I am gone."
* NationalGeographicNudity: Used realistically, and not too excessively.
* NewMeat: Cut Rock is the nervous newbie of the slaver band.
* NiceHat: Zero Wolf's helmet.
* NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished: Flint Sky, despite his old age, kicks Middle Eye's ass when he's about to rape Blunt's wife. Flint Sky ends up being executed in front of his helpless son, and Middle Eye goes on to rape and murder the poor woman anyway.
* NobleSavage: Played straight with Jaguar Paw and his village.
* OhCrap: The exact look on Jaguar Paw's face, when after climbing a tree to hide from his pursuers, he [[spoiler: finds himself between a jaguar cub and its pissed off mother]].
* OutsideContextVillain:
** The {{Mayincatec}} civilization to Jaguar Paw's forest-dwelling people.
** [[spoiler:The Europeans at the end, though we don't see enough of them for them to be portrayed in a positive or negative light]].
* PapaWolf: Jaguar Paw and, of course, [[MeaningfulName Zero Wolf]].
* PetTheDog: Zero Wolf aiding, congratulating, and showing appreciation of his young son, then mourning him when [[spoiler:Jaguar Paw kills him in self-defense.]]
* PinkMist: A rare non-gunshot related example.
* PrecisionFStrike: When one of the slavers is bitten by a snake, Middle Eye comments that "he's fucked". And he was. (This is changed to "He's dead" in the TV version.)
* PromotionToParent: The eldest of the village children left behind calls after the captured adults that they needn't worry, because she will be mother to the others.
* QuicksandSucks: Jaguar Paw falls into a quicksand pit, but he manages to escape, signifying his prophecized "Rebirth from Mud".
* RapePillageAndBurn: The fate of the village.
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: Zero Wolf probably wouldn't have pursued Jaguar Paw so ruthlessly if [[spoiler:Cut Rock]] hadn't been killed.
* SadlyMythtaken: Kukulkan ([[UsefulNotes/AztecMythology Quetzalcoatl for the Aztecs]]) was probably the only one god in the Mesoamerican pantheon that did not demand human sacrifices and actually spoke against them.
* SavagePiercings: Most of the tribesmen and women had piercings of some description. There were wooden and jade studs, as well as more complicated, ornate pieces. The Mayan king is completely covered in elaborate piercings.
* TheSavageSouth
* SceneryPorn mixed with SceneryGorn
* SergeantRock: Zero Wolf -- this deteriorates considerably as the film goes on.
* ScarilyCompetentTracker: Zero Wolf and Snake Ink.
* ShoutOut: To ''Film/{{Commando}}'', of all things.
* ShownTheirWork:
** Jaguars have the strongest jaws of any of the big cats, and unlike the rest, which will usually go for the jugular, the jaguar will instead crush its prey's skull between its jaws as in the film.
** Although the region and [[HollywoodHistory time period is wrong]], the film did accurately portray the theories based on archeological evidence about the reasons the Classic Maya civilization collapsed, like the environmental degradation which led to famine and eventually social unrest.
** It also shows the aristocracy [[HanlonsRazor unconscious of its problems]] or unwilling to find solutions. The archeologists also mentioned this political [[GenreBlindness blindness]] during the [[GoneHorriblyWrong long Mayan collapse]].
** Also a lot of research went into the costumes, piercings and tattoos of the characters. For example, Seven has the Mayan numeral 7 tattooed on her arm.
* SternChase: The entire second half of the film.
* StuffedIntoTheFridge: Blunt's wife Sky Flower, and Jaguar Paw's father Flint Sky.
* StupidEvil: The slavers from the city would have been much better served if, instead of burning down Jaguar Paw's village, sacrificing the men who dare to fight back, raping and killing the women, and driving everyone else deeper into the forest to live in exile, they had left the village standing and kept returning at regular intervals to "harvest" slaves from a still-sedentary subject population, or even demanded yearly tribute. Which incidentally, was exactly what the RealLife Aztecs did.
* TranslationConvention: Averted, like the aforementioned, the film is entirely spoken in a contemporary Maya language with subtitles.
* UglyGuyHotWife: Blunt is big-boned, but not unattractive; however, his wife is clearly meant to be the most beautiful girl in the village and everyone thinks she's too good for him.
* VerbalBusinessCard: [[MyNameIsInigoMontoya Already mentioned]], his name is really Jaguar Paw and he is '''[[CaptainObvious definitely]]''' a hunter.
* VillainousRescue: The mother jaguar who angrily chases Jaguar Paw for (unintentionally) threatening her cub certainly counts as one of these. She ends up attacking and ripping the face off one of his pursuers -- who was ''also'' trying to kill him.
** [[spoiler:The ending should also count since the Europeans unknowingly stopped Jaguar Paw's execution and will bring about the further collapse of the Mayans... before taking over themselves.]]
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: When the women of the village are being sold as slaves, the oldest one is set free because there were no buyers. We last see her looking on as the men are marched off to be sacrificed.
** Not to mention the surviving children from the villages, who follow behind the enslaved adults on their forced march until the adults cross a foaming river that the children cannot pass.
* YouHaveFailedMe: In a rage Zero Wolf kills one of his underlings after Jaguar Paw escaped at the waterfall. Said underling refused to follow when Zero Wolf announced they'd be going over the waterfall after him.
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