The Road to El Dorado

The Road to El Dorado is a wonderful movie for the entire family. It is about two Spanish con men, named Tulio and Miguel, who, after gambling for a map, getting captured and escaping from Cortés himself, and taking his horse Altivo along, find themselves somewhere in South America. They follow the map to find the legendary city of gold. Upon arriving, they meet a wonderful cast of characters, they are worshiped as gods, Tulio forms a relationship with a woman named Chel, and they get caught up in the sinister plans of a man named Tzekel-Kan. All the while, Cortés is drawing closer…

This movie is one of my personal childhood favorites. It is a musical comedy that is perfect for children and adults. The plot is well-paced. At no point does one feel as if things have slowed down too much, which is especially good for children. The songs are memorable, the jokes are consistently funny, and the portrayal of Indigenous people is done very well.

Did you know that the people of El Dorado are meant to represent many different cultures of South America? Each aspect of the society (i.e. the buildings) is taken from a different civilization of South America.

Setting: Spain and the continent of South America in 1519.

What is this movie rated? PG

What is the run time? One hour and twenty-nine minutes.

Is there any objectionable content? There is cartoon violence in this movie, allusions to violence that is unseen, two on-screen deaths (one is a human and the other is a seagull), and two short scenes that show blood. Chel is a bit scantily clad, and there is a suggestive scene between her and Tulio. Tzekel-Kan has some scary scenes when he uses dark magic and when he is trying to sacrifice someone. This character also presents dark views of religion. Also, there are several adult jokes that are aimed at parents. However, as mentioned above, the portrayal of the people of El Dorado is not done disrespectfully.

Is this movie appropriate for children of all ages? Younger children may be scared or upset at a few scenes, but they should be fine otherwise. They will probably miss the adult jokes.

What themes are found in the movie? Themes of friendship, romance, good vs. evil, making mistakes, and adventure are found throughout this movie.

Who would like this? This movie is good for most families who like music, adventure, and comedic family fun.

Rating? Five stars.

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Rocking Rock Opera

fuddEven in High Society, there aren’t many faster ways to clear a room politely than bring up the subject of Opera. Everyone gives a nod, a panicked smile, and then slowly backs out, unable to name a single one. If we took a poll, most people would probably say their exposure to opera consists of what they learned from Bugs Bunny http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2mjbrz, or perhaps Animaniacs. Don’t worry, I’m not going to change your mind. You won’t get me to sit through an entire one, either, except maybe Aida. Any play with live elephants and camels is awesome.

So, what IS opera? Opera is a play, usually in acts, where all the dialogue is sung in an operatic style (and you know what that sounds like). The music is big, heavy, foreign, and so are the singers. Operetta is still an opera but usually much shorter, and they are often comedies. A musical is just a play where people burst into songs, or songs and dance now and then.

So where does Les Miserables fall? I liked that movie, and I hateles-miserables-dvd-cover-48 opera! Les Mis is a bone of contention. It is not an opera, because the songs are not sung in the operatic style. It’s more than a musical, because all the dialogue is sung and there’s certainly nothing to dance about, like Oliver! dreaming of a real meal. So at best, for lack of a better term, the experts call Les Mis a sung-through, meaning there is some non-song dialogue, but the lines are sung without being part of a song (think of Javert and Jean Valjean’s confrontation in singsong https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8WSysB5vKM). Some call Les Mis a “popera,” or pop-opera, but those aren’t exactly songs that will climb record charts, and others try to call it a rock-opera, which it is also definitely not.

So what then IS rock opera? At some point in your life, on some radio station, you’ve heard a version of “Pinball Wizard,” or “We Don’t Need No Education” (the technical title is “Another Brick in the Wall part 2”). Those songs come from the two most well-known Rock Operas, Tommy, and The Wall. A rock opera consists of a full-length story in which the story is told through song, but the music is entirely modern and popular.

TommyalbumcoverTommy, by The Who, was the first work known as Rock Opera (1969). Purists will say it is not opera because it is not sung in opera fashion; the fact remains, it is a full story told entirely in song. In short, as a child, Tommy witnesses his father kill his mother’s boyfriend, retreats into an autistic-like trance, and endures much abuse as his parents look for ways to break him free. They discover that, even though it doesn’t appear he can hear, speak, or see, he is a master at pinball, which they use to draw him out and return him to society. Yes, there are differences between the album, the play, and the movie version, but the flow of the story remains the same. The movie includes Tina Turner, Elton John, and Peter Frampton. ‘Nuff said.

Fastforward ten years. The Brits hit again, with the release of Pink Floyd’s The Wall inB000006TRV 1979. The Wall is a masterpiece of modern music, the story of a rock singer (Pinkerton Floyd) who builds a mental wall to insulate himself from the outside world, which he feels has abandoned him. The death of his father in WWII, his overbearing mother, his abusive teachers, his unfaithful wife are all bricks in his wall, until, isolated and alone, he festers until the court of his peers orders the wall be torn down and he be returned to the world. It’s a masterpiece of suffering, death, and rebirth, without a word of dialogue. The movie had mixed reviews, but remains faithful to the vision. Check out the concert version here.

Green_Day_-_American_Idiot_coverA third, more modern piece (2004) that can be considered Rock Opera is Green Day’s American Idiot, which chronicles the “disillusionment and dissent experienced by (Jesus of Suburbia) a generation which came of age during various turmoil including the Iraq War.” What is it with wars creating Opera? Admittedly heavily influenced by The Who, the only real difference I see with American Idiot from its predecessors is it seems to be a LOT LOUDER. Songs like “Wake Me Up When September Comes” are just as worthy and beautiful.

Sure, some people try to lump Ziggy Stardust in here, and Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, but there is a difference between a “concept” album and a rock opera. Think of a concept album as a book of short stories around a theme, whereas a rock opera is an entire novel.

So if ladies in Viking horns screeching for the ophigh notes aren’t your style, try a rock opera. Drama, intrigue, murder, drug addiction, infidelity, and rebirth, all set to some pretty catchy music – and sometimes a pretty good movie, too. What more can you ask for?