Ancient civilizations often served as great inspiration for filmmakers. Many movies both documentaries and fantasy were made using their settings, deities, cities, and rituals. The Mayan civilization is one such iconic ancient mesoamerican civilization, but weirdly enough, it wasn’t portrayed in the movies nearly as much as some other civilizations. In today’s post, we’re going to focus on Mayans in both cinema and documentaries. Having said that, let’s take a look at the 10 best movies about Mayans you need to watch.
1. 47 Meters Down: Uncaged (2019)
47 Meters Down: Uncaged is the second installment in the series of survival horror movies. The movie shares the premise with the first installment dealing with protagonists being trapped underwater while being stalked by a shark. In the second installment, we follow Mia and Sasha a pair of stepsisters that run into some serious trouble while on the bonding trip.
They are planning on scuba diving near a sunken ancient Mayan city. They eventually decide to explore the city and reach an ancient burial chamber. While attempting to explore the chamber further One of the friends knocks over a stone column which as consequence results in a cave-in of the whole chamber. Things get worse when the shark starts stalking them and the bonding trip turns into a battle for survival.
2. Evil Grave: Curse of the Maya (2004)
The movie starts with Renee a recovering substance addict moving into a small town near the Mexican border. The town has sinister history but Renee and her fiance are unaware of it.
Renee and her fiancee Jeffrey soon start befriending the locals and one of them is Michael a local windmill custodian. Renee and Jeffrey invite Michel over for dinner, but the social gathering will soon be interrupted by Mayan zombies hellbent on getting revenge. Things get further complicated when they find out that Michael, their guest is connected to them.
3. Apocalypto (2006)
Apocalypto is a historical horror movie directed by Mel Gibson and while initially it was received well, later on, it was pointed out that it painted an incredibly inaccurate picture of this once-great civilization. Still, it’s an entertaining movie and because of it, it landed on this list.
Apocalypto takes place in Yucatán around the year 1502 while the Mayan civilization is undergoing rapid decline. The movie deals heavily with themes of human sacrifice, oppression, and ritualistic worship.
4. Breaking the Maya Code (2008)
Up next we have one documentary movie. Breaking the Maya Code takes us on a journey of exploring and re-discovering the hieroglyphic script of the ancient Maya that was translated shockingly late compared to other scripts of the ancient civilizations.
The documentary itself was based on a book written by Michael Coe. By investigating the civilization’s script we should get a clearer picture of what their everyday life was as well as uncover some of the more mysterious parts of the civilization.
5. The Fountain (2006)
The Fountain takes us on a journey through multiple timelines with Tom Creo/Tomas Verde/ Tommy the Space Traveler (Hugh Jackman). In the present day, Tom Creo is desperately trying to cure his wife Izzi of a deadly brain tumor.
He even resorts to some unconventional means such as exploring ancient Mayan myths. After Izzi ultimately dies, Tom goes on a journey to rid the world of mortality itself.
6. Curse of the Mayans/ Xibalba (2017)
Curse of the Mayans follows an expedition led by Dr. Alan Green and Danielle Noble as they plan an expedition to the sunken ancient Mayan city Xibalba. Their goal is to find ancient records submerged for ages under the treacherous waters, but instead of finding some historical materials, they will unleash a powerful and deadly curse.
7. The Ruins (2008)
The Ruins is a supernatural horror movie that follows two American couples on their vacation in Mexico. While vacationing they accidentally meet Mathias a tourist for Germany that can’t locate his brother Heinrich that was working near an ancient Mayan archeological dig located in the nearby jungle.
Reaching the jungle and archeological site, they realize they are not alone as the place is inhabited by Mayans. They promptly attack them but as the story develops further we discover that Mayans are not afraid of the tourists after all but of something far more evil and menacing.
8. Kings of the Sun (1963)
In Kings of the Sun, we witness an epic war of two civilizations caught up in a bitter war on the coasts of the Gulf of Mexico. The Native Americans swore destruction upon the Mayan tribe and neither will rest until the other tribe is completely wiped from the face of the earth.
9. Volcano / Ixcanul
This extraordinary Guatemalan drama leads us to a village built on the slopes of a volcano. This is where Maria lives a teenage girl that belongs to the Kaqchikel people. A very religious and secluded people practice a mix of Christianity and ancient Mayan religion. Maria is betrothed to Ignacio, an older man against her will and the arranged marriage ceremony is going to be held as soon as he returns from a nearby town.
Maria is involved with Pepe, a boy closer to her age who seduces her with stories of America and other wonders beyond the confines of their small town. Maria ends up pregnant with Pepe and now faces the wrath of Ignacio and her parents. She will go through extreme measures in order to lessen the consequences of her actions.
10. Mayan Doomsday Prophecy (2006)
Remember when the world was supposed to end in 2012? It never happened of course, and doomsday was prophesized several times since then as well. Still. the theory was quite intriguing and spawned many documentaries (and many fiction movies).
As I’ve said there are plenty of documentaries that tackled the ending of the ancient Mayan calendar but I’ve decided to put Mayan Doomsday Prophecy on the list. The documentary deals with decoding the ancient Mayan calendar and the true meaning behind the symbolism of the end of the world.