Notes on the First Draft of Apocalypto

Notes on the First Draft of Apocalypto
When it comes to a little of the old ultra-violence, nobody delivers the goods quite like Mel Gibson.  The actor, turned writer/director proved that once again this weekend with his latest beautifully filmed blood bath, Apocalypto.  And while critics have raved about the movie, they would have been horrified had they seen the original draft of the script. Here are the notes that producers sent Mr. Gibson on the rough draft that he submitted.

Mel, you’ve done it again.  Another powerful and unique script that's sure to be a hit.  Before we move forward, however, we’re going to have to ask you to make a few changes. 

P. 1
You told us this script would be written completely in the Yukatek Mayan language.  This dialogue is clearly written in Pig Latin.  Not only is this inauthentic, the sheer amount of pauses the characters take to decipher what is being said to them wastes an incredible amount of time and creates a lot of unnecessary action.  For example:

 Igantic-jay ake-snay!

(PAUSE) At-whay?
(Both Characters are eaten by a gigantic snake)

Also, fluency in Pig Latin does NOT give a person the ability to converse with pigs. 


While we try not to discourage deeply personal art, the audience will likely see right through the scene in which the protaganist is captured by enemy soldiers and drunkenly asks if they are Jews. Mayans had no knowledge of the existence of the Jewish people!  Also a little too transparent is the part where the enemy soldiers remark that these “must be the drunken ravings of a mad man” and that they should “do what any civilized society would do and not blow this out of proportion.”   The scene then ends with them noting that they should “make sure they continue to see this guy’s movies.”

P. 23
While it is true that Mayans offered human sacrifices as gifts to their gods, no one would have been concerned about “scratching the price tag” off of the sacrificial gift.  You should also get rid of the scene where the two warriors show up with identical twins and worry that they “both got the sun gods the same thing.”

P. 37
You are correct that the Mayans would sometimes launch bees’ nests and poisonous frogs upon their enemies, however, these creatures did not explode into flames on impact, as you suggest here.

P. 45

While the Mayans were known to have tattoos, the words “Tru Playa 4 Real” meant nothing to the people of that time period, especially in English.

P. 56
You portray the Mayans as having virtually no understanding of science.  While it is true they did not understand events like eclipses and earthquakes, they certainly did not send out search parties every single night to look for the sun.

P. 67
Cortez and his men did not arrive on a fleet of surfboards.  Regardless of the fact that surfing did not exist in the 1500s, it would have been physically impossible for someone to surf nonstop for several months.  You do try to  address this fact when one of Cortez’ men states “that was awesome at first but it got boring after a while.” However, boredom would have been the least of their problems.

P. 72

The Cleveland Indians were not among the enemy tribes of the Mayans.

P. 88

The shootout with the South African drug smuggling ring is irrelevant to the action thus far in the film and upon closer inspection, appears to have been taken verbatim from “Lethal Weapon 2.”  The names of “Jaguar Paw” and “Flint Sky” even sporadically change to “Riggs” and “Murtaugh.”

P. 120
This final scene makes no sense.  Here you depict Cortez meeting the leader of the Mayan people who thanks Cortez for “discovering” them and asks if he “wants to have  Thanksgiving.”  Cortez responds “Save it Paco, you’re under arrest.”  When the Mayan leader asks what the charge is, Cortez booms “Partying too hard!”  Then as the Mayan Leader is lead away in handcuffs, everyone starts dancing and the Mayan Leader looks at the camera and says, “Remember, don’t drink and drive.”  We need to find a more meaningful way to end this film.

Fix these problems and you’ve got a green light.
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