Set in 1905, ‘Apostle’ tells of a trio of false prophets, who discover a strange old lady wandering in the woods, with powers to cause fertile growth of vegetation. For power and gain, they imprison and starve her, while claiming to have exclusive access to a goddess. Perhaps due to their prior religious fixations on the ‘right’ kind of offerings to give, they feed her only blood, assuming it to be worthy and potent. With nothing else to consume, she drinks it, and accelerates some growth. At first, they gave animal blood. Upon realising its lack of intended effect, they move on to human sacrifices. However, she steadily weakens.
The film is an elaborate parable for what happens when greedy humans exploit Mother Earth, who is regarded by some to be like a goddess. Think Gaia. She seems mysterious because we have yet to fully figure out how Mother Nature works. She is old because she has been around for billions of years. She is a lady because of her mothering nature (pun intended). She wanders the woods because she is one with the woods, interconnected to all aspects of nature. Blood offerings can seem to work at first because the Earth is able to regenerate from death and decay. But when given the essence of greed, hatred and ignorance, karmically, it will fail. Humans feeding their spiritual three poisons to nature reaps only the poisoned.
The captors were able to hold her captive because the Earth cannot escape humans who colonised her, even if she outlives every one of them. They treated her like a machine, abusing her, pushing her to do what she cannot. Featured a little monstrously at first, on closer observation, she is no monster, but a misunderstood victim. (The captors were the true monsters in human skin.) She is razed by fire in fear, which spreads – because nature interconnects. Nature can be trapped, yet is indestructible, always winning in the end – naturally – even when without intention to retaliate. As the kind of anti-hero at the end dies after kind of saving the day, he smiles as he merges to become one with the Earth, as if having become her true apostle.