Love watching Movies and Documentaries about old civilisations? Does anthropological research on the Mayan Civilisation interest you? Check out this list of some thrilling ancient movies about the Mayans that you can watch.
The Maya civilization was a Mesoamerican civilization developed by the Maya peoples and noted for its logosyllabic script—the most sophisticated and highly developed writing system in pre-Columbian Americas—as well as for its art, architecture, mathematics, calendar, and astronomical design. Interestingly, “Maya” is a modern term used to refer collectively to the various peoples that inhabited this area. The infamous Mayan calendar predicting the end of the world in 2012 became a long topic of speculation for researchers, though it never happened, the idea of the world ending continues to intrigue many. Ironically, Mayans did not call themselves “Maya” and did not have a sense of shared identity or political unity. The following films about Mayans are educational and entertaining and will enhance your knowledge about their culture.
List of Movies about The Mayans
- Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of Crystal Skull
- Night at the Museum
- The Ruins
- Guatemala: Heart of the Mayan World
- 47 Meters Down: Uncaged
- Mayan Blue
1. 2012 (2009)
IMDB ratings: 5.8/10
Cast: John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet
Director: Roland Emmerich
The American science fiction film 2012 is based on the 2012 phenomenon put forth by the Mayan civilization. According to Mayans, cataclysmic, transformative events would occur on 12th December 2012. So, the movie might seem unimportant now that nothing has happened. But, when it came out in 2009, this movie had a considerable impact and received a big turnout, grossing $791 million.
2012 speculates that humanity is in a situation of such catastrophic events. The premise opens with an American geologist Adrian Helmsley researching in India and learning that an exotic new type of neutrino from a massive solar flare is heating the Earth’s core. Multiple characters show us what society can do in its power to survive—using political links, money, family ties, and steadfast determination. Terror balanced with humorous dialogues and spellbound visuals of the world’s end makes 2012 one of the best movies about Mayans to watch.
Also Read: Movies like 2012
2. Apocalypto (2006)
IMDB ratings: 7.8/10
Cast: Rudy Youngblood, Dalia Hernandez, Raoul Trujillo
Director: Mel Gibson
Apocalypto is an epic historical adventure film by Mel Gibson. The film summarises many different Mesoamerican cultural practices and periods. For example, the temples are by, and large Classic Maya, but some instances from the film are influenced by the Aztecs as well. The story follows Jaguar Paw and fellow tribe members while hunting in the Mesoamerican rainforest. They encounter razed forests and vast fields of failed maize crops alongside villages decimated by an unknown disease.
The tribe members pass a little girl infected with the plague who prophesies the end of the once prosperous Mayan world. Many dialogues of the film are spoken in Yucatec Mayan language (with subtitles). Apocalypto is an excellent film about survival that you should check out if you are looking for movies about Mayans on Amazon Prime Video.
3. Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of Crystal Skull (2008)
IMDB ratings: 6.2/10
Cast: Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett
Director: Steven Spielberg
The 2008 film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the 4th instalment in the well-known action-adventure Indiana Jones series. This sequel was released 19 years after the previous film. The movie follows a renowned archaeologist, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), who teams up with a young man, Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), to unearth the mystery of the legendary 13 crystal skulls.
The myth of these 13 elongated crystal skulls residing in the ancient kingdom of Akator embodies the gods of a lost Mayan culture. There is a strange tale by the old Maya that the ones possessing all the skulls hold the power to save the Earth. In the premise, when Indiana enters the chambers, he discovers one of the crystal skulls is missing. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a fantastic film to watch if you wish to see movies about Mayans on amazon prime video. Check it out.
4. Night at the Museum (2006)
IMDB ratings: 6.4/10
Cast: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen WIlson, Rami Malek
Director: Shawn Levy
Night at the Museum is a fantasy comedy film based on the same-titled book by illustrator Milan Trenc. The movie follows a story of a divorced father. He begins to work as a night watchman at the New York City’s American Museum of Natural History. He soon discovers that all the exhibits magically come alive at night due to an Egyptian artefact.
Since the story revolves around the Museum, various historical figures and communities like Theodore Roosevelt and Romans are brilliantly reimagined. While Mayan culture is not central to the plot, there are multiple characters and elements in the film inspired by the Mayans. Watch Night at the Museum, and it’s two sequels if you are interested in movies about Mayans.
5. The Ruins (2008)
IMDB ratings: 5.9/10
Cast: Jena Malone, Shawn Ashmore, Jonathan Tucker
Director: Carter Smith
The Ruins is a 2008 horror film by Carter Smith and is based on a novel of the same name. The story follows two young American couples: Jeff, Amy, Eric, and Stacy. They go on vacation to Mexico, where they meet Mathias, a tourist looking for his brother. The last known location is a dig at a remote Mayan ruin in the jungle.
The group is confronted by Mayan villagers armed with knives, arrows, and guns. Though the group comes in peace, the Mayans can’t understand the language and see them as a threat. The Ruins is a creepy horror that tangles an intricate weave of suspense throughout. If you want to watch movies about Mayans, you might be interested in the intense film The Ruins.
6. Guatemala: Heart of the Mayan World (2019)
IMDB ratings: 6.6/10
Cast: Christian Morales
Director: Ignacio Juansolo, Luis Ara
Guatemala: Heart of the Mayan World is a short informative documentary film, and it showcases the cultural and natural richness of Guatemala, a Central American nation with plenty of past and present, coming to terms with its history and a promising future. From Sierra de las Minas to Esquipulas, the documentary explores Guatemala’s cultural and geological wealth, including the ancient Mayan cities.
I learned a lot from this short but informative documentary and is really worth watching if you want to learn more about the Mayan culture. This beautiful country covers exciting topics like Spanish colonial buildings, Maya civilization, forests, rivers, the Pacific Ocean, and volcanoes. This movie is narrated in Spanish, but there are English subtitles. If you want to see documentaries about Mayans on Netflix, watch Guatemala: Heart of the Mayan World.
Also Read: Movies like Sunshine
7. 47 Meters Down: Uncaged (2019)
IMDB ratings: 5.6/10
Cast: Sophie Nélisse, Corinne Foxx, Brianne Tju
Director: Johannes Roberts
47 Meters Down: Uncaged is a survival horror film and a sequel to 47 Meters Down (2017). None of the cast from the previous film returns here as the film features a new cast consisting of Sophie Nélisse, and Corinne Foxx, to name a few. The plot follows a group of teenage girls who scuba dive to a sunken Mayan city, only to be trapped by a group of sharks that are swimming in it.
This film is a fresh take on typically cliché shark movies. The story of survival is immersive and intense, with a great plot twist towards the end. The staging was convincing, and the situation felt believable overall but the acting was far from great. However, if you’re a fan of shark movies, movies about Mayans or the deep sea, this may be one for you.
8. Mayan Blue (2014)
IMDB ratings: 6.5/10
Cast: Ben Sullivan
Director: Rafael Garcia
Mayan Blue is a documentary film that follows the journey of an ancient Mayan site which was recently discovered beneath the waters of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Through the investigation of the 2000-year-old city of Samabaj, the film explores the Mayan view of the cosmos and their ancient mythologies. The findings reveal a catastrophe the likes of which the Mayans could never have imagined, reshaping everything they believed about Earth and the origins of their underworld.
Mayan Blue explores the history of the Yucatan and surrounding regions through the unique water features that dot their landscapes. From the impenetrable forests of Mexico’s Yucatan to the peaks of Guatemala’s ancient ranges, Mayan Blue takes the viewer through worlds never before seen. Mayan Blue is an excellent option if you are looking for movies about Mayans, check it out.
Here are a few films about Mayans that didn’t make the list, but you can check them out nonetheless:
- Wonder Woman 1984
- The Emerald Forest
- Curse of Mayan Temple
- Mummies Unwrapped
- Lost Treasures of the Maya