The first voyage around the world in 1519 has reached its 500th anniversary. To commemorate this historic event, a Spanish film producer Filmax and distributor Dibulitoon decided to create an animated movie depicting how Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan and Spaniard Juan Sebastian Elcano circumnavigated the world and landed in the Philippines.
The Battle of Mactan was shown on the trailer as well as Filipino hero Lapu-Lapu who was the first Filipino to resist Spanish rule. But beyond the subpar animation and cringy voiceover lies even bigger problems; historical inaccuracies, for one, which Filipinos were quick to point out.
The movie is set to be released locally in January 2020 but with the reactions you are about to read, you can bet it’s going to flop, or worse, get banned.
A closer look at the poster and trailer
There’s an animated movie about Magellan and just… YIKESSSS.
Stop depicting colonizers as good guys. pic.twitter.com/Q68s4uxOY9
— (@satvrncat) November 6, 2019
The poster itself doesn’t sit right. Elcano is placed front and center with Magellan by his side and a girl, seemingly a Filipina, gazing at him in admiration. Bear in mind that this was the journey that started more than 300 years of Spanish colonization in the Philippines. Neither Elcano nor Magellan had any right to look so heroic, especially considering that (spoilers) Magellan died in the hands of Lapu-Lapu.
And of course, there has to be a narrative where a native Filipina just had to fall in love with the white guy.
Colonizers are not heroes
whoever thought that it was a good idea to make a glorified colonizer magellan animated movie needs to be smacked
— SAI ️ (@pandesaii) November 6, 2019
Okay, let’s try this again.
Please do not, under any circumstances, support the Elcano and Magellan movie. It protrays colonizers in a good light, like they’re the heroes when Magellan brought suffering to the native Filipinos. And it also portrays the natives (especially + pic.twitter.com/OyhO1Z8JJW
— LINHARDT DAY (@jamaisryuu) November 6, 2019
Let’s get this straight: Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese colonizer, he wasn’t out to save the Philippines. He might have started that voyage to look for routes to the east and “discover” spices but he ended up fighting and murdering natives just to be able to claim their land. Magellan wanted to extend Spain’s rule, the very definition of someone trying to colonize a place.
Who Elcano really was
There’s many things to unpack here but because I love my local history let’s go with the obvious: neither Elcano nor Magellan should be admired; Magellan screwed with us locals when he shouldn’t and Elcano actually was among the ringleaders of a mutiny during their expedition https://t.co/HefnUrNFYn
— teariee ✨ @ ARCHcon AA32! (@teariee) November 6, 2019
Although Juan Sebastian Elcano was the person who completed the navigation around the globe, Magellan was more celebrated for having started it. During the voyage, Elcano actively participated in mutiny against Magellan. He was eventually pardoned and when Magellan was killed, he eventually succeeded him. A few years after he returned from the first expedition, he set sail for the Loaisa Expedition but perished from malnutrition. Role model? I think not!
The number of historical inaccuracies
I found the character descriptions and ugh i hate it even more now. pic.twitter.com/cWjgYQ2426
— (@satvrncat) November 6, 2019
It’s barely been a month since the DreamWorks’ Abominable movie debacle where a controversial scene depicted a map of which contained China’s nine-dash line. Now another film has managed to get on the bad side of Filipinos. Elcano and Magellan portrayed Filipinos as an incoherent tribe of bootleg Moana characters and Lapu-Lapu as a grunting savage. It made the voyage look like a Dora The Explorer sunshine-y episode. If anything this film is proving to be a great case study, good or bad.
But still… extensive research left the group chat.
Filipinos were not the villains in this story
hello, non-filo oomfs!! i highly advise you to not support the animated magellan movie that is likely to come out!! not only is it glorifying a white man who tried to colonise our country but they made the man he fought, who protected his people and land, the antagonist
— sab┊h (@NITONAZUNAS) November 6, 2019
Spanish film producers and distributors (Filmax, Dibulitoon) literally made a film w/ Magellan as hero and Filipinos as romantic interests/understanding supporters/antagonists………and they’re about to show this film in the PH……….put this colonialist garbage in the trash https://t.co/k3lZ90x3kk
— Matt Ortile (@ortile) November 6, 2019
If this movie were targeted for adults, we can understand Lapu-Lapu’s crooked nose and sneer. But since it’s targeted primarily for kids who have a fixed mindset on who the villains are based on their looks, Lapu-Lapu will be misunderstood. History will attest that Filipinos aren’t the villains here; we were the ones being conquered and fighting for freedom.
Some people would like to consider the film as “Spain’s point of view” and let’s just nip that thought in the bud
are you not tired of the way we’ve always been portrayed as small submissive savages being saved by the white colonizer? are you not tired of the narratives that paint these colonizers as the heroes and us as either the willing victims or the villains?
— sai (@ansaiety) November 7, 2019
Even if it’s from a foreigner’s point of view, it’s historically inaccurate to say that these men were adventurers (or conquerors) and valiant ones at that. It doesn’t change the fact that their visit to the Philippines ended in bloodshed and Filipino slavery.
One Facebook user pointed out that historical works tend to be tweaked to tell the story in their favor. Not everything will be 100% historically accurate, and even books turned into movies are not the same. But therein lies the problem. This animated movie was made for children, and if at a young age they learn a wrong version of their history, it’s a damage that’s difficult to unmake.
We hope it stays true to the end
Maybe it’ll be a happy ending where Magellan is killed. If he doesn’t I’m gonna lose it. https://t.co/OtCrtXIk3A
— Angelee. (@Cangeleilii) November 7, 2019
I really hope they include the part where Magellan and his forces jumped from their boats in full armor like total idiots and were slaughtered because they didn’t know how to fight in water. Great hero moment https://t.co/0pfmNXImRm
— Per My Last Emil (@EmilHofilena) November 6, 2019
Even if the trailer itself was disappointing, we want to know if they show Magellan getting defeated by the brave Lapu-Lapu. If Magellan somehow manages to end up sailing into the sunset with the Filipina and Elcano by his side, tables will be flipped.
Do better next time
To the scriptwriter, the director, and everyone involved in the creation of the Elcano and Magellan movie, you must be turning a blind eye to the damaged caused by the Spanish colonizers to the Filipino natives. You’re portraying these voyagers as heroes off to an adventure
— (@lettersfromnams) November 6, 2019
Since yesterday, the film’s local distributor, Crystal Sky Media has set their Twitter account to private following the backlash. Maybe for the sequel, the film creators can show how Elcano died from starvation and malnutrition during the Loaisa Expedition? How’s that for accuracy?
What are your thoughts on this “adventure” film? Share them with us below!