Logo of the Eternals movie by Disney
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Why “Eternals” IS a bad movie

on
2022-05-06

Nearly one year ago, I wrote an article called Why “Eternals” will be a bad movie. After finally watching it, I can confidently say, that I was not wrong. In this article I want to describe the movie from my perspective and illustrate wider implications movies like Eternals have.

What I wrote one year ago

I basically did an analysis of the then new trailer and suggested, that these Eternals were an alien race on earth that majorly influenced human history. We already see this in the names of the characters. These are from human mythology, suggesting that these heroes were themselves alien. It seemed that the Eternals brought technology to earth and therefore were the true initiators of human progress. From irrigation to the introduction of the metal ages, all initiated by an alien race.

I also wrote, that tropes of alien invasion were massively popularised through a Swiss pseudo-scientist named Erich von Däniken. Movies like Stargate (1994) or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) were heavily influenced by his theories. Depictions like these mirror behaviours of Imperialism, where a supposedly “superior race” (so Europeans mainly) teaches and frees an inferior one (West Asia, Africa, North and South America, …). You get the picture.

What watching the film changed

After watching the movie a couple of weeks ago I can confidently say, that nothing has changed. I was correct in my predictions and it was even worse. Throughout the film, Eternals are depicted as the superior group, that ultimately is forced to help humans (despite their intentions). This argumentation is deeply rooted in 19th century narratives of the “correction” of the east. If this doesn’t ring a bell, you definitely should read Said , Distelhorst or Nochlin .

By the way: I was also right, that the city depicted in the trailer was Babylon. The reconstruction of the city walls and basic structure was a slap in the face. Many movies have done a better job than Marvel.

The chracters of Eternals stand in front of the gates of Babylon
The reconstruction of the walls of Babylon is immensely false. | © Disney

The wider implications of movies like Eternals

Films like these are therefore very hurtful, especially in the eyes of the oppressed. Mesopotamia in particular gave us the most important inventions. By taking away these inventions and explaining once again, that everything we have is thanks to a superior group of (mostly white) people, we suppress West Asia once more. We take away their culture for our entertainment. This is still Imperialism.

I know that this is just fantasy. I know that this film is a hero movie for entertainment. Why crying about some minor “interpretations” of history for the sake of a good movie? Because it is part of a structural racism in which we live. By creating movies like this we support structural racism and in the long run undermine other cultures (so non-white cultures) today. This is still Imperialism.

One thing I wrote one year ago was wrong after all. I imagined that the film will be at least entertaining. I sadly have to admit, that this even was not the case. Besides being shocked about what I have written above, I was mainly bored. This is of course very subjective and it might be different for you. Did you see the film? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments down below.

Bibliography

Distelhorst, Lars. 2021. Kulturelle Aneignung. Hamburg: Nautilus.
Nochlin, Linda. 1989. “The Imaginary Orient.” In The Politics of Vision: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Art and Society, 33–59. New York: Harper + Row.
Said, Edward W. 1994. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Random House.
Said, Edward W. 1978. Orientalism. New York: Pantheon.
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Sebastian Hageneuer
Germany

Hi! My name is Sebastian. I am an archaeologist, a university lecturer, freelancer, guitarist, karateka and father. You could say I am quiet busy, so I learned to manage my time and energy to build good habits and still have space for myself and my family. Sounds difficult? Read here how I do it. Every Friday.

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