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“The Embrace of the Serpent”

Embrace of the Serpent 1a

“The Embrace of the Serpent”

Colombian

*****

2015

Adventure/Drama/History 

Not Rated

“The Embrace of the Serpent” is filmed in black and white (except for a few emblazon moments), a film that takes us to the Amazon with haunting, remoteness and mysterious pace. Director Ciro Guerra’s film is unique in every sense of the word, in the sense he depicts genocide of indigenous peoples of North and South America through the eyes of an indigenous person rarely done by Western filmmakers.

The film’s first character is shaman Karamakate (as a young man played by Nilbio Torres) comes across a sick German ethnographer named Theodor Koch-Grunberg (Jan Bijvoet) looking for yakruna, a plant said to have healing powers, and Karamakate may be the only one that knows where it is. This is in 1909, at a time European industrialists and missionaries, wittingly or unwittingly, are destroying the forests by cutting trees for rubber or forcing religion down the throats of the local people. Karamakate doesn’t trust the whites but soon becomes the guide for Theodor along with western dressed guide named Manduca (Yauenkil Migee). All three men in a canoe go down the Amazon River, which at times is treacherous. Fast forward, circa,1940, another white man, this time an American botanist Schultes Brionne Davis) is in the same area, along the Columbian-Brazilian border, again Karamakate (the older played by Antonio Bolivar) becomes the guide going down the same river looking for yakruna.

Guerra and cinematographer David Gallego could hardly have done a more eloquent film where white foreigners brought havoc on the pristine forests and the people as well. The land is sacred and is not to be unnecessarily butchered or disturbed by cormorants.

“The Embrace of the Serpent” is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film for 2016.

Cast: Nes (Young ilbio Torr Karamaakate), Jan Bijvoet (Theodor Koch-Grunberg), Yaramakate Migue (Manduca), Brionne Davis (Richard Evans Schultz), Antonio Bolivar (older Karamakate). Running time:125 minutes. Director: Ciro Guerra.

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