Day 355: Embrace of the Serpent (February 27)

After spending 5 hour straight inside Cine Brasilia on the day before, it was with a sense of dejá vu that I came back this beloved movie theater to watch Embrace of the Serpent (El abrazo de la serpiente). I took my usual seat at the third row, (almost) far from everyone else and prepared myself for an unique experience.

I was right this time. This Colombian production nominated to the Oscar for Best Foreign Film is something else. The black and white nuanced cinematography, by taking out the rich colors of Amazon Forest, creates another dimension entirely. We witness another time and place in a unreal color, and that brings all the conflicts on the screen closer to us and to the reality of Amazon communities nowadays. The extermination, the insane violence, all the madness, torture, invasion, marauding is elevated to a higher octave in this beautifully constructed film.

It is a movie that we see with our body. It is visceral this way. I felt like all my insides were being smashed. There's beauty and transcendental aspects, but there's nausea, horror, discomfort, pain. That's the current story of Amazon until this day, after so many greedy exploration.  Here we see especially the European and US explorers, united by one figure - the Indian that lost everything, clinging strongly to his ancestral links to his place and people. But even that he feels that it's leaving him. Karamakate, presented by a complex manner (worth of such a character), brings the whole story of his native place in him. One person to tell about many exterminated folks, lost traditions, a dying nature.

The complexity by which the subjects are approached here creates a not so easy narrative. I saw many disturbed faces at the end. There's no explanation or redemptive aspects or anything like it, despite the use of a few cliches (I think it is inevitable). But we see what was and what is depicted through mainly by the journey of three characters and those they meet on their way. It is not easy as it is fit to such a theme.

At one scene on an abandoned mission "the horror" quote from Apocalypse Now came to my mind. The horror... the horror. Reading some comments after the movie, I saw the same reference in many of them. I was so shocked by this scene on the movie, as I didn't know about it already. And that's the fundamental importance of daring productions as this one (and, in a distinct way, Son of Saul and Room, to quote recent examples): we cannot forget about such crimes. Ever. Movies can remind us of that. In this case, the reminder comes through a masterpiece, beautiful and pungent.

El abrazo de la serpiente. Directed and written by Ciro Guerra based on the
diaries by Theodor Koch-Grunberg and Richard Evan Schultes. Cast:
Nibio Torres, Jan Bijvoet, Antonio Bolivar. Colombia/Venezuela/Argentina,
2015, 125 min., Black and White/Color (Cine Brasília).

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