Golden Astor - «Embrace of the Serpent»

 

 

I’ve never dreamt. Nor asleep, nor awake. Only yakruna can help me. The amazon rainforest is the natural setting to narrate the story of the first explorers, those who were capable of marveling by the immensity of an unspoilt world, away from asphyxiating elements like money or weapons. Their quest for a sacred plant will make them go deep into a universe where preconceived laws will be of little use.

The encounter –with a 40-year span- between German ethnologist Theodor Koch-Grunberg (1872-1924) and American biologist Richard Evans (1915-2001) with chaman Karamakate, the last survivor of his tribe, is a zigzagging and passionate story about the irruption of white men in foreign lands, and the bidirectional influx of two opposite worlds with coincidences in its base. Ciro Guerra’s script, together with an exceptional cinematography, astound us for is thematic complexity, for the intersection between the different layers of meaning and the deep reflection on origin, identity and human arrogance.

The worship of the land, the respect for its vital cycles and the conception of nature as original and magnanimous order are altered with the introduction of the concept of shame, the importance of material possessions and weapons as latent danger. Thus, with a four-decade span, the two stories converge in a temporal evolution, parallel to the progressive penetration of different cultures with one single objective: to impose their idiosyncrasy, absurdly and painfully overwhelming.

Embrace of the Serpent is the deaf scream of cultures who have been silenced, annihilated and forgotten. The immense power of memory, of origins and the co-dependence between men and nature unfold in a film with an outstanding production design, in a delicate black and white.


 

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