Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Road To El Dorado - Andrea Arias

The Road to El Dorado, directed by Bibo Bergeron and Jeffrey Katzenberg, is a movie about two Spaniards (Tulio and Miguel) who find their way into the lost City of Gold (El Dorado). To obtain the wealth they both desire, they deceive the indigenous people into thinking they were Gods sent to take charge of the City. Throughout the film, we see them have life-changing revelations about the importance of being part of a community and distinguishing between what is truly important in life. Unfortunately, this particular film has more negative ideological messages when it comes to the misrepresentation of culture, race, treatment of women, and misplaced values making it a movie not well fitted for children.

 The last time I watched The Road to El Dorado, was when I was around six years old living in Mexico, and I thought it was one of the most entertaining movies since I was currently learning about Hernan Cortes (Spanish conquistador). There is one particular scene where Cortes finds Miguel and Tulio hiding in his ship, and says to them, "My crew was chosen as carefully as the Disciples of Christ, and I will not tolerate stowaways. You will be flogged. And when we put into Cuba to resupply, *God willing*, you will be flogged some more. And then enslaved on the sugar plantations for the rest of your miserable lives. To the brig!". This underlines the fact he is pretty much a scary and inhuman man who only cared about completing his mission and could care less who it might affect. The problem with having a man like Cortes say something about committing violent acts toward Tulio and Miguel is the fact that children may not be mature enough to hear it. It is a high possibility that most kids don't even know what slavery is, let alone the magnitude it signifies in the movie.

I cannot help but wonder how this movie even came out since nothing about it represents the real history of the Spaniards and the indigenous people. Instead, we are shown two grown men who make their way to El Dorado hoping to just get rich off the indigenous population, and mostly just showing a lack of moral. We are shown that the conflict in the movie is not due to the Spaniards (which should be the case if this was based on history) but the Priest (Tzekel-Kan) of the indigenous people. Typically, the Priest is shown as the saint and savior to all problems, but in this particular film, he was shown as the monster who was out to destroy his own people. In my opinion, that makes no sense at all, mostly when he was depicted as a traitor near the end as he tells Cortes where the City of Gold is located. It shows a lack of understanding of the culture and instead presents that the problem of the destruction of indigenous lands was started by conflicts in their own communities. In Understanding Movies, Giannetti emphasizes that everyone “has a characteristic way of looking at life, a set of values that is typical of a given culture” (419). That point makes it clear that the values of the indigenous cultures were misrepresented in a way that dehumanized that particular group and instead praised men like Tulio and Miguel.

 Another problem that was presented throughout the movie was the mistreatment of women. We are introduced to a young girl, Chel, and showed a culture in which women are either seen as child bearers or specifically serving men. In Understand Movies, Gianetti states that "good looks and sex appeal are compelling traits, predisposing us in favor of a given character"; however that shouldn't be the case in movies like The Road to El Dorado since the audience is mostly children. Even though Chel is portrayed differently, as she has a plan to get out of the City and explore the world around her, she is shown as the manipulator of men as she uses her body to get what she wants. Since this is a PG movie, that can be seen as a problem as little girls seeing this can misinterpret the acts of Chel and think that the only way to achieve what they want is by having a good appearance and depending on men to get you where you want to be. Tulio and Miguel are even shown making a promise to each other to not go after her as they say she is “off limits,” making it seem like if they indeed tried, they could easily get her.

At the end of the movie, Tulio and Miguel choose to save El Dorado from the evil Priest and ruin their chances of becoming wealthy. Since this film was meant for young children, it is important to state that these types of movies deceive and teach children the wrong meaning of culture, race, gender, and overall moral values. It is safe to say directors Bibo Bergeron, and Jeffrey Katzenberg did not do such a good job at presenting a positive message throughout the film and for that reason I only give them one nacho.

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