Charming and educational, Juan Antin’s animated adventure will keep the kids happy — and it might even teach them something.
There’s a story behind Pachamama, Juan Antin’s environmentally-conscious fun-for-all-the-family animation that debuted on Netflix today. It’s a long one, winding back over a decade, and has its root in the innocent world imagined by children forced to watch foreign conquerors arrive on their shores. That attitude — childlike wonder, innocence, and confusion — winds right through the finished product, a lovely and spirited tale aimed at entertaining the kids while also teaching them a thing or two about history, ecology, and belief.
The story follows a ten-year-old boy with aspirations of becoming a shaman who ventures off to retrieve a golden relic confiscated by an overlord. The Spanish Conquest looms in the story’s margins, but its colorfully winning characters and animal sidekicks make a stronger impression, even if the film’s ecological undercurrents are more pressing today than they have ever been.
It’d be easy to mismarket Pachamama as a message movie, but it isn’t, really; it speaks in the underheard voice of indigenous people, those of the Andes who worship the Earth — Pachamama is a nature goddess — but not in a way that’s preachy or aggravating. The dichotomy of worshipping the earth versus seeing it as a resource to be mined and exploited is one that still persists today, which is probably what attracted Netflix to the film in the first place.
And there’s no better way of instilling positive attitudes into youngsters than embedding it in their entertainment, and luckily Pachamama works on that basic level of an animated adventure story. It’ll doubtlessly please the oodles of children whose parents make up Netflix’s teeming global audience, and their parents can rest assured knowing that their kids are being distracted by something wholesome, made with passion and care, and with real things on its mind.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.