This is copied (with some modifications for links) from a comment I made at Richard Hanania’s going way off track from his post just because this material was on my mind:

Speaking of Cortez’ encounter with the Aztecs (part of a general pattern of conquistadors worth exploring), earlier this week I finally watched James Cameron’s Avatar and I just couldn’t get into a movie where a primitive tribe with bows & arrows is able to militarily defeat a professional force with spaceships, machineguns, bombs etc. But I guess that’s what our culture demands. It seems like we’ve gotten more detached from reality since Dances with Wolves, which ends by making the obvious point that the sympathetic Plains Indians were inevitably defeated by the US Army. I could chalk that up to Avatar being completely fictional whereas we know what happened to the real natives, but then I think about other films since Avatar like Buffalo Boys & RRR. Both end with the plucky duo of Indonesians/Indians (respectively) defeating the colonialists in a big fight, but both are set well before colonization ended so the audience knows the colonialists were actually triumphant at those times. The latter uses the names of real guys who were killed as part of their political struggles, but the film isn’t willing to let them actually be martyrs. I suppose something similar also applies to Pan’s Labyrinth, which is less triumphant in that the protagonist arguably dies in “real life”, but still features a Francoist military fort being defeated by maquis in post-Civil War Spain when I don’t think any such thing ever happened in reality.