|EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT (EL ABRAZO DE LA SERPIENTE) (director/writer: Ciro Guerra; screenwriters: Jacques Toulemonde Vidal /based on the diaries by Theodor Koch-Grunberg & Richard Evans Schultes; cinematographer: David Gallego; editor: Etienne Boussac; music: Nascuy Linares; cast: Jan Bijvoet (Theodor Koch-Grunberg), Brionne Davis (Richard Evans Schultes), Antonio Bolivar (Karamakate, old), Nilbio Torres (Karamakate, young), Miguel Dionisio Ramos (), Nicolás Cancino (Anizetto), Yauenku Migue (Manduca); Runtime: 125; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Cristina Gallego; Oscilloscope Labratory; 2015-Colombia/ Venezuela/Argentina-in Spanish, Portuguese, German, Catalan, Latin-with English subtitles)|
|"A stunning visual and a culturally
by Dennis Schwartz
talented Colombian writer-director Ciro Guerra ("The
Wild Journeys"/"La Sombra del
Caminante") helms a stunning visual
and a culturally informative film. It tells us about
the wrong-doings occurring during colonialism in South
America by the exploiters, and offers us a rare chance
to get some insight into the Amazon culture and their
thinking process. The message sent about the jungle
expeditions is about the value of preserving our
natural environment and the fragile balance in place
between nature and man that is rapidly deteriorating.
exciting adventure film was inspired by the
real-life journals of two explorers--the earlier
German, Theodor Koch-Grünberg (Jan
Bijvoet), and the later American, Richard
Evan Schultes (Brionne Davis).
They traveled through the Colombian Amazon during
the last century, but 40 years apart, and were both
amazed at how wide is the gulf between their Western
culture from the indigenous Amazon one. Dreams are
more important in the Amazon culture than in ours.
We observe how they use
hallucinogens as a mind-expanding drug to connect
them with their inner self, nature and their
dreams. The filmmaker looks at how the West
colonizers exploited the Amazon for its resources
of rubber, while the natives were more interested
in the psychedelics.
expeditions are linked to
having the same guide, shaman Karamakate, who
accompanies both to search for the sacred
and difficult-to-find psychedelic Yakruna
plant. A plant noted by mystics
because of its great healing powers.
earned the Top Director prize at Cannes for this
rewarding film, one that is so right on in its context
as a spiritual journey (despite a few scenes depicting
religious insanity and sadism) and for its fine
technical achievements of filming it in a crisp black
and white. Its visuals are a high mark in
REVIEWED ON 12/8/2015 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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