Rio 2 is set in the Amazon, and I watched it over Easter with my grandchildren. It was technically brilliant, of course, full of smart tributes to Holywood, and, appropriately for a film whose messages were so black and white, it was a riot of colour. Its themes were eternal: human greed and folly, alienation, and redemption, and the animals portrayed in the film were all possessed of a good range of human qualities. Indeed, they were all so very human most of the time that the key point of the film was really the alienation of nature from nature itself. Here's a synopsis that will have you dashing for your local Showcase cinema ...
In RIO 2 we find Blu, Jewel and their three kids living the perfect domesticated life in that magical city. When Jewel decides the kids need to learn to live like real birds, she insists the family venture into the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit in with his new neighbours, he worries he may lose Jewel and the kids to the call of the wild.
Existential stuff. The highlight for me was a turtle capoeira which took anthropomorphism to new depths. I'll not completely ruin the plot, but needless to say, all ended well, apart from for the head logger who came to an appropriately sticky end. In fact he was the only one who died in the whole 90 minutes – apart from a few dozen trees which Holywood seems not to regard as living.
The cinema was almost empty, and so there were not many impressionable minds imbibing this perversion of life, but if this was the only learning about the human – rest of nature relationship that they encountered over Easter, it's a gloomy prospect. As to what they could have learned, here’s how Tom Paxton might well have summed it up …
What did you learn from the film today,
Dear little child of mine?
I learned that eco-warriors hardly ever lie.
I learned that animals never die.
I learned that loggers will all pay for their crimes.
I learned that we live in the best of times.
That’s what I learned from the film today.
That’s what I learned from the film.
And so, of course, did I.