Monday, July 18, 2016

Time Lost, Time Regained

El abrazo de la serpiente/Embrace of the Serpent (2015) - Guerra
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Gorgeously filmed in black and white, Ciro Guerra's film from the perspective of a native Indian deep in Amazonian jungle of Colombia is a rare beauty. The film centers around Karamakate (played wonderfully by Nilbio Torres in his younger years and by Antonio Boliva in later), the last of his tribe which is wiped out by encroaching white colonial rubber plantation in the early 20th century. First it was Theodore Koch-Grunberg (Jan Bijvoet), a sickly German scientist who came to find a rare medicinal plant that might cure him. His diary, published in Germany after his death inspires another botanical enthusiast Evan (Brionne Davis), retracing the steps of the journey with now older Karamakate who claims he doesn't remember anything anymore.

Embrace covers a lot of territories, not only geographically, but also the effects of colonialism thoroughly - religion, culture, language, spirituality, materialism, violence, etc. It's also very poetic and timeless in its presentation as the past and present, dream and reality overlaps each other. It strikes a good middle ground to be not too preachy nor too new-agey. The color part of the film is what Malick aspired to achieve in Tree of Life and Guerra does it with 1/1000th of a budget, I'm sure.

This made me to revisit Herzog's Ten Thousand Years Older, a ten minute documentary he made about Uru Erus of Brazil for Ten Minutes Older project which is Sublime. They go well together.

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