Warning: There be major, major spoilers here.
Rod Dreher and Jeffrey Overstreet have linked to a handful of spoiler-filled reviews of Apocalypto which suggest that Mel Gibson’s film is, in some sense, about the triumph of Christianity over the evils of paganism. That is how some of Gibson’s Catholic fans have interpreted the film, and that is also how some of his detractors, such as Traci Arden, have interpreted it, too.
But as you could guess from my own review of the film (“he hints ever so obliquely that the world has not fared any better under we Christians”), I think this interpretation of the film is dead wrong. David Van Biema, religion reporter for Time magazine, gets closer to the truth when he says the movie’s approach to Catholicism is “equivocal” — and if we were to take into account the prophecy uttered half-way through the film by the diseased girl depicted above, I suspect our interpretations of the film would move even further away from the triumphalist end of the spectrum.
I would have to see the film a second time — and I do plan to, soon — before I could be absolutely sure about all the details, but I explained my reasons recently in an e-mail to someone who replied to my review, and I will copy-and-paste that e-mail in the comments to this post. Feel free to throw in your own two bits.