Dec 26, 2008

Christmas movies

What comes to mind when someone mentions "Christmas movie"? I would bet that most Americans think of some of these classics:
  • It's a Wonderful Life, it's a family feel-good movie that takes place during the Depression. I guess people are too depressed this year, so they're not showing it much on cable this time.



  • Miracle on 34th Street, another old classic.



  • For a more recent classic, a lot of people love A Christmas Story. These days, this movie is so popular that they're even mass-producing the leg-shaped lamp that the father in the movie receives as a gift. They run a 24-hour marathon showing this movie all day long on Christmas on one of the cable channels.



  • The new addition I'd like to propose to this classic list is the movie Apocalypto.



    At first glance, you might think, hey, this has nothing to do with Christmas at all. It's about Mayan warriors slaying animals, raping and pillaging neighboring villages, and decapitating prisoners of war to satisfy the sun god. Not to mention, the tribes in the movie are not even Christian.

    If you watch this movie a few times, however, you realize there's actually a Joseph-Mary-baby Jesus story buried there. The plot revolves around Jaguar Paw, the main warrior, trying to survive being captured by a bloodthirsty rival tribe. He needs to get back to his pregnant wife and son in time to save them from drowning in an underground pit.

So when you need to explain to your relatives, your wife, or whatever why you need to watch a movie like Apocalypto during the Christmas season, it breaks down like this:
  • In the beginning of the movie, the men of the good tribe slay a tapir, and bring various forms of tapir meat back to their village. The gifts of meat paralell the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh brought by the wisemen in the traditional nativity story.
  • Jaguar Paw, Jaguar Paw's wife, and Jaguar Paw's baby are paralells for the holy family.
  • There are Christmas animals, just like in the stable in Bethlehem, but adjusted for what it would have been like in Central America: tapirs, monkeys, and jaguars
  • There's a total eclipse in the movie that plays a big part in the plot resolution, just like the star that the wisemen see.
Good luck with this explanation, and enjoy the show! And if there's anyone that missed Sunday school as a kid, here's a good recap of the nativity story.

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