“2012” REWRITE DAMAGES ANCIENT MAYAN TEMPLE
The Guatemalan Government has issued a formal request to the United States for the extradition of two Hollywood screenwriters accused of rewriting an ancient Mayan stone relief at the Temple of Masks in Waxaktun.
David Kappman and Scott Hughes claim they were hired by director, Roland Emmerich to reshape an “early draft” of “2012”. ”You couldn’t use a Mac,” said Hughes. “The only way to knock this thing out was with a sledgehammer and a pneumatic drill.”
The original draft was carved entirely by hand sometime around 720 AD by a writer known as Kinich Paynal (The Sun Traveler). Archeologists estimate it would have taken him at least twenty years to complete. After that, the work remained untouched. Very few Mayan writers had the stamina to engage in rewrites and many died shortly after finishing their first story.
At the Museo Popol Vuh in Guatemala City, curator Francisco Cardinales expressed frustration over how long it has taken the police to act.
“The police are usually very quick to arrest people. In most cases they do this before a crime is even committed. How could the Americans have been hammering away for almost six months without attracting any attention?”
“Quite the opposite was true,” said Kappman. “We both like to write in private, but when you bring out a sand blaster it draws a crowd.
The people at Waxaktun are reticent to talk to outsiders, but one woman who asked not to be named said that local guides and the district police assumed the Americans had been hired to clean the temple. “Now they are embarrassed,” she said. “Even my husband, who does not clean, knows a house has four sides. Why would they spend six months on one wall?”
Cardinales has seen the wall. In his opinion the rewrite essentially obliterated the original stone relief. “They have destroyed a piece of our history,” he said. “Something that we can never recover.”
His remarks drew an angry response from director, Roland Emmerich. “Destroyed is a pretty strong word,” he said. “Has this clown even seen the movie?”
Emmerich’s production company, “Centropolis Entertainment” has retained entertainment attorney, Scott Lavinsky to represent the two writers. He views the case as relatively straightforward.
“This isn’t an artifact or an ancient carving or a sacred fragment of history. It’s a piece of writing. And like any piece of writing, it’s subject to clearly established legal precedents. The draft at Waxaktun is well over a thousand years old. That places it squarely in the public domain. To label it as a ‘priceless Mayan antiquity’ is prosecutorial melodrama.”
Lavinsky has asked the U.S. State Department to deny the extradition request on the grounds that no U.S. citizen should be forced to submit to the jurisdiction of a foreign court based on the accusation that they “damaged an old wall.”
Elizabeth Warden, Professor of International Law at Harvard University viewed Lavinsky’s approach as extremely shrewd. “His argument has little legal merit, but he’s not building a case, he’s sending a message,” she said.
“A decision that legitimizes foreign litigation over ‘a wall’ might lead to problems for a government that’s leveled several cities over the last ten years.”
Artist rendition of the Temple of Masks, circa 700AD. “Masks” was popular among Mayan screenwriters.
“Rad” and “Newsies’ were both carved here around 780AD.
Considering their current legal problems it seems ironic that neither Kappman nor Hughes are credited on the final film. Less than eight hours after Kappman finished sanding the last sentence, Emmerich had read the draft and decided to work with new writers.
“Taking on a project’s not an adoption,” said Kappman. “You can’t get attached.” “It’s like foster care,” added Hughes. “You do the best you can and hope you don’t damage it any more than the next guy down the line.”
Kappman and Hughes are expected to meet with officials from the State Department within the next few days.