The Road to El Dorado

USA 2000

Reviewed by Leslie Felperin


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

1519, Spain. Petty criminals Tulio and Miguel obtain a map leading to El Dorado, the fabled city of gold in the Americas. They accidentally stow away on a ship bound for Mexico, commanded by the conquistador Cortes. Through a series of misadventures they end up washing ashore on a boat with a horse named Altivo. Encountering some Native Americans from El Dorado who mistake them for gods, Tulio and Miguel are taken to the city and worshipped. They dissuade their hosts, led by Chief Tannabok, from offering a human sacrifice in their honour, angering high priest Tzekel-Kan. Tulio and Miguel demand gold instead, and plan to leave. Native girl Chel rumbles their deceit and insists on going with them.

Tulio falls in love with Chel, breaking an agreement he made with Miguel not to get romantically involved with any of the natives. Miguel is enraptured by the city's friendly occupants. Having deduced the Spanish opportunists are mortal when he sees Miguel bleeding from a cut, Tzekel-Kan summons a monster from the spirit world to attack Chel and Miguel. The Spaniards defeat this creature; banished from the city, Tzekel-Kan chances on Cortes and his men, and agrees to guide them to El Dorado. As Tulio and Chel leave the city on a ship filled with gold, the citizens attempt to seal up the access route to the outside world, thereby protecting their city from Cortes. Miguel - who planned on staying in El Dorado - joins Tulio and Chel on board and helps block the entrance to the city. They escape unharmed.


While all movies are engaged, consciously or not, in a dialogue with films from the past, some are more talkative than others. The latest animated feature from DreamWorks SKG, The Road to El Dorado, is positively garrulous, invoking the spirits of its ancestors with near superstitious fervour. For starters, the business of having the invaders mistaken for gods, then seduced by the land they came to exploit is a nod to The Man Who Would Be King, John Huston's 1975 adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's story, featuring Sean Connery and Michael Caine. El Dorado even steals the plot point of a bleeding forehead betraying the gods' mortality and a jump from a bridge which echoes Connery's swan dive in Huston's film.

More significantly, its title is a self-conscious wink in the direction of the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby Road to... franchise, in which the bantering duo found themselves in antic scrapes with quaint cultural stereotypes from central casting. Thus, The Road to El Dorado features two amiable rogues, Tulio and Miguel (voiced by Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh respectively), whose picaresque pursuit of riches takes them to exotic Latin America, a familiar Hope-Crosby haunt, especially during World War II when Hollywood was encouraged by the US government to forge stronger cultural links with the neighbouring continent. The film industry needs no such encouragement today when there's a vast international market to be tapped.

But the most important template for this movie is the monstrously successful films El Dorado's executive producer Jeffrey Katzenberg used to make at Disney such as The Lion King. Having performed flatly at the box office with their two earlier cartoon efforts, Antz and The Prince of Egypt, each of which deviated slightly from the Disney formula, DreamWorks played it by the rules this time: from the swooping ballads, penned by Tim Rice and Elton John (who collaborated on The Lion King), to the trippy montage sequence showing the leads' infatuation with their new-found kingdom. As with the films Katzenberg oversaw at Disney, The Road to El Dorado even features its share of cute animals, including a friendly horse and helpful armadillo. In truth, El Dorado is as good as most recent post-Katzenberg Disney films, and certainly with its stylised characterisation and bursts of witty dialogue a great deal better than the Mouse's turgid mega-budget epic Dinosaur. Unfortunately for DreamWorks, El Dorado flopped in the US. One can't help seeing a certain similarity between Katzenberg and the scheming high priest at the end of the film: frustrated in his efforts to wrest back the kingdom, he gnashes his teeth for losing paradise.


éric Bergeron
Don Paul
Bonne Radford
Brooke Breton
Terry Rossio
Ted Elliott
Supervising Editors
John Carnochan
Dan Molina
Production Designer
Christian Schellewald
Elton John
Tim Rice
Score Composers
Hans Zimmer
John Powell
©DreamWorks LLC
Production Company
DreamWorks Pictures presents
Executive Producer
Jeffrey Katzenberg
Co-executive Producer
Bill Damaschke
Production Supervisors
Kathy Hendrick
Bruce Seifert
Andrew Birch
Scene Planning:
Bret Babos
Darci Ernst
Carrie Wilksen
Ameane Owens
2D Effects:
Frederick Lissau
3D Effects:
Noel Wolfman
Kristen McKittrick
Colour Model:
Lisa Fuerst Brosnan
Assistant Director:
Michael Serrian
Scene Planning
Stephen Childers
Robert Crawford
Deirdre Creed
Brian Riley
Craig F. Simpson
Richard Turner
David Valera
Dolores Gavin
Kate Spencer
Production Office:
David Kalbeitzer
Stacey Pauly
Melissa Gardner
Heidi Kenny
Amy Taylor
3D Character Animation:
René Harnois Jr
Final Line:
Jason Brewer
Tony Cosanella
Matt Davis
Chris Frye
Ross Field
Colour Models:
Brian Faiola
Tim Kinnaird
Colour Dailies:
David Busch
Script Continuity:
Adrienne Lusby
Visual Development:
John Mann
Production Managers
Jill Hopper
Mark Swift
Digital Colour:
Matthew Teevan
Animation Department Manager
Steve Pegram
Effects Department Manager
Barbara Cimity
Digital Manager
Mary Anderson
Post-production Executive
Jan Owen
Artistic Supervisors
Ronnie Del Carmen
Jeff Snow
Lorenzo E. Martinez
Damon O'Beirne
Kevin Turcotte
Scene Planning:
David Morehead
James Williams
Animation/Final Line:
Kristof Serrand
Colour Models:
David Svend Karoll
Digital Supervisor:
Dan Philips
3D Effects:
Bud Myrick
2D Effects:
Stephen Wood
2D Digital Effects:
Jane Gotts
Stuart Campbell
Animation/Digital/Final Check:
Pat Sito
Shauna Stevens
Digital Paint:
Jill Tudor
Marylata E. Jacob
Leslee Feldman
Costume Designer:
Kelly Kimball
ADR Voice Casting
Sandy Holt
Philip LaZebnik
Additional Dialogue
Karey Kirkpatrick
Story Artists
Réjean Bourdages
David Bowers
Paul Fisher
Edmund Fong
Victoria Jenson
Jennifer Lerew
Ted Mathot
Douglas McCarthy
Donald Morgan
Scott Santoro
Brian Sheesley
David Soren
Randy Cartwright
Brenda Chapman
Lorna Cook
Sylvain Deboissy
James Fujii
Jurgen Gross
Steve Hickner
Eric Koenig
Todd Y. Kurosawa
Tony Leondis
Steven Markowski
Henry Mayo
Kevin O'Brien
Conrad Vernon
Simon Wells
Frans Vischer
Colour Models
Soo Jin King
Alison Flintham
Sara Brigitte Strother
Susan Van Der Horst
Head of Technology
Ruth Scovill
Head of Software
Edwin R. Leonard
Head of Systems
Bill Villarreal
Technical Production Managers
Ralph Denson
Bernadette J. Gallardo
Kate Swanborg
Technology Co-ordinators
Jeri Heit
Denise Kellener
Technology Writers
Julie Dean Smith
Mary Margaret Stratton
Character Design
Carlos Grangel
Nicolas Marlet
Tony Siruno
James Wilson
Kent Melton
Dusty Horner
Raffaello Vecchione
Visual Development/ Design
Additional Production Design:
Victoria Jenson
Additional Art Direction:
Sam Michlap
Sequence Design:
Seth Engstrom
David James
Visual Stylists:
Kirsten Henshen
Hani D. El Masri
Visual Development:
Daniel Cacouault
Didier Conrad
Luc Desmarchelier
Darek Gogol
Marc Lumer
Craig Mullins
Fred Warter
Bruce Zick
Will X. Rivera
Visual Consultant:
John Pohl
Senior Supervising Animators
James Baxter
David Brewster
Supervising Animators
William Salazar
Serguei Kouchnerov
Bob Scott
Rodolphe Guenoden
Kathy Zielinski
Frans Vischer
Kristof Serrand
Sylvain Deboissy
Nicolas Marlet
Sailors/Ball Players:
Patrick Mate
Miscellaneous Animation:
Erik Schmidt
Claudio Acciari
Cinzia Angelini
Cecile Bender
Arnaud Berthier
Jennifer Cardon
Rick Farmiloe
Lionel Gallat
Steve Horrocks
Jakob Hjort Jensen
Fabrice Joubert
Ken Morrissey
Kevin O'Hara
Pedro Ramos
Emil Simeonov
Dan Wagner
Alex Williams
Scott Wright
David B. Boudreau
Adam Burke
Antony Gray
Richard Sanguoon Kim
Brad Kuha
Robert Milne
Claire Morrissey
Tom Owens
Jean-François Rey
Erik C. Schmidt
Andrea Simonti
Dimos Vrysellas
Eric Walls
Manuel Almela
Bruce Ferriz
Bo Johannesson
Dave Kupczyk
Philippe Le Brun
Claire Morrissey
Mike Nguyen
Jane Poole
Robert Bryan
Mike Chavez
Emanuela Cozzi
Ricardo Curtis
Tim George
Steve Horrocks
Duncan Marjoribanks
Gary Perkovac
Jean-François Rey
Mark Williams
Dan Boulos
Kent Culotta
Maximilian Graenitz
Teresa Martin
Sylvia Muller
Olivier Coipel
Catherine Feraday
Luis Grané
Fabio Lignini
MaryAnn Malcomb
Simon Otto
Pres Romanillos
Miscellaneous Animation:
Paul Jesper
Uriel Mimran
Herman Sharal
3D Character Animation
Michelle Cowart
Wendy Elwell
Ryan Roberts
Michael Spokas
Mike Ullner
Final Line Animation Department Head
Brett Newton
Supervising Character Leads
Brian Clift
Kay Sales
Character Leads
Nicola Courtney
Helen Michael
Dawn Pearce
Millet Henson
Jennie Langley
Tanja Majerus
Judy Howieson
Irene Parkins
Sylviane Burnet
Scott R. Bern
Ronan Spelman
Miscellaneous Characters:
Caroline Brophy
Additional Final Line
Yelena Geodakyan
Doug Nineman
Sandra Ryan
Additional Animation
Stardust Pictures
Sequence Supervisor:
Rob Stevenhagen
Dino Athanassiou
Paul Lee
Michael Schlingman
Sharon Smith
Gabriele Zucchelli
Production Co-ordinators:
Chris Haralambous
Gayle Martin
Anna Tasou
Additional Animation
Bardel Animation Limited
Delna Bhesania
Feature Department Supervisors:
Scott Kiborn
Norm Konyu
Production Manager:
Tia Menich
Effects Sequence Leads
Jeff Howard
Lynette Charters
Jamie Lloyd
Tzekel-Kan Magic:
Olivier Malric
Al Holter
Jaguar Hunt:
Ed Coffey
Sean McLaughlin
Crashing the Gate:
Doug Ikeler
Effects Senior Animator
Crashing the Gate:
Moon Seun
Effects Animators
Leonard F.W. Green
Dan Kessler
Rosanna Lyons
Esther M. Barr
José Luis De Juan
Marek Kochout
El Dorado:
Stephen Krauth
Hock Lian Law
David Lyons
Bob Lyss
Scott Santoro
Bob Simmons
Paul Teolis
Jeff Topping
Dennis Recchia
Jaguar Hunt:
Michael Duhatschek
James Farrington
Colin Sittig
Crashing the Gate:
Conánn Fitzpatrick
Yancy Lindquist
Robert Naudon
Rod Paul
Olun Riley
Creation Sequence Effects
Key Lighting
Laura Corsiglia
Marcos Mateu Mestre
Key Layout/Workbook
Mick De Falco
Clive Hutchings
Douglas Kirk
Matt Lee
Armen Melkonian
Nol Meyer
Mark Mulgrew
Jean Luc Serrano
Todd Winter
CGI Layout
Harald Kraut
Le Uyen Pham
Donald Reich
Tim Soman
Layout Artists
Matt Aspbury
Andrea Blasich
Guillaume Bonamy
Eric N. Clark
Seth Engstrom
Herb Hazelton
Brendan Houghton
Michael Isaak
David James
Conor Kavanagh
Kate Moo King
Christophe Lautrette
Ed Li
Emil Mitev
Francisco Mora
Brad Morris
Kenard Pak
Benoît Le Pennec
Alexandre Puvilland
Ritche Sacilioc
Vladimir Spasojevic
Pamela B. Stefan
Pierre Olivier Vincent
Julia Woolf
Technical Director
Daniel Bunn
Blue Sketch
Garth Hammers
Background Stylists
Scott Wills
Armand Baltazar
Chris Brock
Richard Daskas
Desmond Downes
Paul Duncan
Nathan Fowkes
Carolyn Guske
Tianyi Han
Tang Kheng Heng
Ruben Hickman
Wade Huntsman
Yoriko Ito
Joty Lam
Robert Lowden
Karl Wehrli
Donald Yatomi
3D Paint
Carolyn Ensle-Rendu
Technical Directors
Valerie Lettera-Spletzer
David Navarro
Vicki Hiatt
Additional Editing
Jeff Patch
Lynne Southerland
Art Directors
Raymond Zibach
Paul Lasaine
Wendell Luebbe
Pacific Title
Guitars Performed by
Heitor Pereira
String Trio Performed by
Tristan Schulze
Aleksey Iguedsman
Daisy Jopling
Music Conductors
Gavin Greenaway
Rupert Gregson-Williams
Bruce L. Fowler
Elizabeth Finch
Walter Fowler
Sayuri Kawada
Ladd McIntosh
Jack Smalley
Yvonne S. Moriarty
London Music Co-ordinator
Maggie Rodford
Air Edel
Supervising Music Editor
Adam Smalley
Music Editor
Vicki Hiatt
Music Recording Adviser
Stamm Andrews
Music Recorder/Mixer
Alan Meyerson
Additional Recording
Nick Wollage
Technical Music Advisers
Klaus Badelt
Justin Burnett
James McKee Smith
Geoff Zanelli
"El Dorado", "The Trail We Blaze", "Without Question", "Friends Never Say Goodbye", "Someday out of the Blue (Theme from El Dorado)", "Without Question (End Title)"- Elton John; "It's Tough to Be a God"- Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Kline
Sound Design/Supervision
Greg King
Sound Designer/Editor
Yann Delpuech
Robert Renga
Craig 'Pup' Heath
Laverne Dewberry
Re-recording Mixers
Andy Nelson
Anna Behlmer
Dialogue Supervisor
Darren King
Darren King
Blayn Barbosa
Elea Bartling
Steve Bulen
Mark Carlton
Rachel Crane
Cody Dorkin
Murphy Dunne
Ashley Edner
Bobby Edner
Elisa Gabrielli
Mike Gomez
Javier Grajeda
Brenda Grate
Nicholas Guest
Daisey Hamilton
Daniel Hansen
Wendy Hoffman
Poosy Holmes
Marabina Jaimes
Myles Jeffrey
Lauri Johnson
Luisa Leschin
Anne Lockhart
Don Maxwell
Karmin Murcelo
Jonathan Nichols
Dyana Ortelli
Al Rodrigo
Barbara Ransom
Bert Rosario
Michelle Ruff
Lauren Schaffel
Aaron Spann
Ryan Sparks
Sylvia Villagran
Christopher Windsor
Troy Porter
John Murray
John Cucci
Dan O'Connell
James Ashwill
Linda Lew
Dan Yale
Voice Cast
Kevin Kline
Kenneth Branagh
Rosie Perez
Armand Assante
Edward James Olmos
Chief Tannabok
Jim Cummings
Frank Welker
Tobin Bell
Duncan Marjoribanks
Elijah Chiang
Cyrus Shaki-khan
Elton John
United International Pictures (UK) Ltd
8,077 feet
89 minutes 45 seconds
Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS
In Colour
Prints by
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011