In the jungle, a group of tribesmen were chasing after a tapir, their food for that day. Afterwards, they divided the meat into proportion so that everyone could get their share. As they were goofing around, they noticed that there were people around them. It turned out it was another tribe from the other side of the forest. Flint Sky, being the oldest and like the leader of the pack, thought that the tribe came there to trade food. But when they gave a portion of the meat to them, the leader of the other tribe told them that what they came for was to ask ask permission to pass through for their land was ravaged and they sough new beginning by migrating to other place. Jaguar Paw, the son of Flint Sky, felt a tinge of fear which he was unable to hide especially from his father. Upon seeing this kind of expression from his son, Flint Sky told Jaguar Paw to wash away all this “deep-rotting” fear, even saying that the fear was a sickness.
The next day, Jaguar Paw once again saw the leader of the group of refugees but this time in his dream. He was shocked to see the leader with the latter’s body cut open and hand holding its heart. He was told to run. Awaken from this very bad nightmare, he suddenly felt like their tribe was being watched. Then to his surprise, a new group of tribes entered and set their homes on fire. Some adults were killed while others were attacked then captured. Some women were raped the killed. To protect his wife, Turtles Run and his son, Seven, he used a vine to lower and hid them in a deep vertical cave. But that vine was later cut by a raider when Jaguar Paw was captured. Also, another raider slit the throat of Flint Sky and made sure that Jaguar Paw would witness this. In his father’s last words, he was told not to be afraid.
When Jaguar Paw was tied up, he saw the refugees and its leaders, whom they encountered in forest, were also held as captives, indicating that the raiders were the same tribe who ravaged the other tribe. Even if they wanted to, they could not escape. Their sufferings did not end there. They were forced to march from there up to their captors’ dwellings. On their way to the Mayan city, they encountered a leper girl who told them that the sacred time (solar eclipse) was near and that the man who runs with a jaguar would cause the end of their world. They also passed by a portion of the forest which was cleared for planting crops but the corns were dead and dry. From there, the female captives were held for sale as slaves while Jaguar Paw and the others were brought at the top of the Ziggurat where their hearts would be cut at sacrifice to their God Kukulkan and later be beheaded.
When Jaguar Paw was about to be sacrificed, a solar eclipse occurred. The people was about to panic but the high priest assured them that their god was satisfied with their sacrifices. He asked their god to let the light return to their world, then afterwards, the solar eclipse ended, leaving the people in amazement and in loud roars. Jaguar Paw, together with the living captives, was brought down from the temple. They thought that they would, at last, be freed but it turned out that they all would still be disposed of. This time, they would be treated like mice which would be chase after then later be killed. When it was Jaguar Paw’s turn, he almost made it but he was shot by an arrow in his waist. Blunted, his friend who was still alive despite the injury, helped him by tripping Cut Rock. Jaguar Paw was able to kill him but by this time, Blunted was already dead.
On his way back to their now-destroyed village. Jaguar Paw was unfortunately still being chased by the raiders. Fortunately, he was able to apply all his skills in hunting to get rid of them. He used the kind of snare that their tribe once used with the tapir. Even though it was raining the whole time, he was able to get his wife and 2 sons just in time. He was able to save them. In the end, they transferred to another side of the jungle, saying that they would seek a new beginning. But as they were walking, they noticed a new group of people coming to their lands. That group was the Spaniards.
Society is a group of people connected to each other by their same geographical territory, political authority and dominant cultural expectations. It is composed of people who practice their own norms and values. To better understand human societies, a sociologist named Gerhard Lenski formed his theory of Socio-cultural evolution, which explains how technology shapes and eventually brings about the changes in our society. This theory provided 5 different types of society namely: hunting and gathering societies, horticultural and pastoral societies, agrarian societies, industrial societies and postindustrial societies. Some of these societies were best seen from the movie Apocalypto. Their differences were illustrated through the three distinct groups of people who were also the characters from the film.
Jaguar Paw’s tribe is a good example of a hunting and gathering society. At the beginning of the movie, Jaguar Paw, together with his father, brother and other tribesmen were seen hunting for animals using traditional weapons like spear knives and snare; while the women and the old people were left at home taking care of the young ones and gathering fruits and vegetables. Somehow there was equality since women and men were treated with the same importance even though they had different roles in the community. As to their population, their tribe only had a small number of people, enough to feed with the resources which could be found in that side of forest where they inhabited.
As for the early Aztecs who ransacked and kidnapped the tribe of Jaguar Paw, their society best exemplified the Agrarian society. The tools and equipment they were using were more advanced than the ones the tribes of Jaguar Paw were using. There was a scene in the movie wherein women were shown sewing clothes and linens not manually but using equipment. They also produced things in a larger scale for the huge population. Since there were more resources, people from their tribe had more options as to what their occupations would be. Some of them were vendors, sewers, planters, etc. In one particular scene where women captives were sold as slaves, it was shown that they had a new stand of exchange. They were not using the old barter system anymore. If in Jaguar Paw’s tribe there was social equality, as for the early Aztecs, an extreme social inequality was illustrated. The movie depicted how absolute power of their ruler was by showing a great number of slaves working and constructing pilgrimage religious structures like their temple or pyramid for example. Since they were extremely religious, their high priest almost had the same absolute power as their ruler had. In the movie, the priest was able to make his people believed that they had to kill more sacrifices for their god to be pleased. It can also be inferred that he knew astronomy since he was aware about the solar eclipse.
In the movie’s last scenes, another group of people were shown. They were the first Spaniards who arrived in the New World. Even though their group had the least exposure compared to the other two, we could say that they had most advanced technology. It was evident by their use of boats as transportation. Also, we have to consider the fact that they were able to go there, it means that they had knowledge not only of sailing but also in cartographing or making maps.
Aside from Lenski, other sociologists were able to use their own theories in explaining the changes in our society. For one, Emile Durkheim used “society and function” as the two main ideas. He described how the people’s social ties or bonds affected the social changes in a society. For example, in the movie, the people from Jaguar Paw’s tribe had the same norms and beliefs that was why everyone was cooperating and doing his part in gathering or hunting food for the survival of their tribe, especially his family. The same strong social bond was also seen from the early Aztecs. People from that tribe were obliged to capture and kill humans as their sacrifices. It was taught to them as a way of pleasing their God to have a reward as a return. Basically, killing was considered as something moral to them. On the other hand, the Spaniards had the least social ties. They had been travelling and sailing which meant that they had also been away from their families and their country for a long period of time.