The Road to El Dorado “It’s Tough to Be a God” (2000)

Waaaaaay back in the year 2000, DreamWorks Animation released an animated comedy entitled The Road to El Dorado. Taking inspiration from the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby “Road to..” films, El Dorado tells the story of two swindlers named Miguel (Kenneth Branagh) and Tulio (Kevin Kline), who end up winning a map to the fabled city of gold “El Dorado.” After unwittingly stowing away on the ship of conquistador Hernan Cortes (Jim Cummings), the pair (accompanied by a horse) escape and make landfall in the New World. There, the two use the map and successfully locate the city deep in the jungle. Conveniently, Miguel and Tulio bear more than a passing resemblance to the two gods who created the city in the first place, and the pair are hailed (after a rocky start) as deities, with the entire city at their disposal.

During their first night in the city, the Chief throws a huge party for the “gods.” While Tulio is skeptical about this whole “being a god” thing, Miguel, the eternal optimist, loves it, and swears that being a god is the easiest thing in the world! This is how “It’s Tough to Be a God” begins.

I hardly think I’m qualified
to come across all sanctified.
I just don’t cut it with the cherubim

Tulio, what are you talking about?!
There again, they’re on their knees.
Being worshiped is a breeze which rather suits us in the interim.

Interim, interim. It’s me and him.
Oh, my God!

It’s tough to be a god.
Tread where mortals have not trod.
Be deified when really you’re a sham.
Be an object of devotion,
be the subject of psalms.
It’s a rather touching notion,
all those prayers and those salaams.
And who am I to bridle
if I’m forced to be an idol?
If they say that I’m a god, that’s what I am.

I think the title of the song is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, because while the pair bemoan how tough it is to appear godlike, all you really see is the two having a good time, partying and drinking the night away. I love listening to these two sing, Branagh and Kline are great together. The style of the music is very much in keeping with what you might expect from a Disney musical (even though this is DreamWorks) and the animation is gorgeous! In fact, this is my favorite song from the film, considering it’s the one I remember the most.

There is one spoken verse where Tulio reminds Miguel that if they DON’T pull off this “god” gambit, then they could very easily be sacrificed (i.e. killed) to the real gods.

What’s more, if we don’t comply
with the locals’ wishes,
I can see us being sacrificed or stuffed.
You have a point, yes, that’s very good thinking.
So let’s be gods; the perks are great.
El Dorado on a plate.
(Thank you!)
Local feelings should not be rebuffed.
Never rebuff, never rebuff a local feeling, no my friend.

It’s tough to be a god, but if you get the people’s nod,
count your blessings, keep ’em sweet, that’s our advice.
It’s great advice!
Be a symbol of perfection.
Be a legend!
Be occult! Take their praise, take a collection as the multitudes exalt.
Don a supernatural habit
We’d be crazy not to grab it!
You got it!
So sign on two new gods for paradise… par-a-dise!

Miguel acknowledges Tulio’s point, but doesn’t seem overly concerned, and why not? Right now the entire city believes they’re gods. It seems that the pair should have no trouble collecting as much gold as they like and eventually leaving when the time is right.


But considering this is a movie, you KNOW things aren’t going to be nearly that simple. Hopefully Miguel and Tulio enjoy this night of partying, because things get really hairy starting the next morning (but that’s a story for another time). If you’ve never seen this movie before, don’t let it’s reputation dissuade you, it’s a really fun experience, everyone should see this movie at least once. For now, enjoy “It’s Tough to be a God.”

*All images are the property of DreamWorks Animation

See also:

The Road to El Dorado “On the Trail We Blaze” (2000)

For more Disney and other animated soundtracks, see here

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5 thoughts on “The Road to El Dorado “It’s Tough to Be a God” (2000)

  1. Pingback: Hans Zimmer talks The Road to El Dorado (2000) | Film Music Central

  2. Pingback: The Road to El Dorado “On the Trail We Blaze” (2000) | Film Music Central

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