Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Original title: El Abrazo De La Serpiente
Colombia/Venezuela/Argentina, 2015. Buffalo Films, Buffalo Producciones, Caracol Televisión, Centro Nacional Autónomo de Cinematografía, Ciudad Lunar Producciones, Dago García Producciones, Hubert Bals Fund, Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales, MC Producciones, Nortesur Producciones, Programa Ibermedia. Screenplay by Ciro Guerra, Jacques Toulemonde Vidal, based on the diaries by Theodor Koch-Grunberg, Richard Evans Schultes. Cinematography by David Gallego. Produced by Cristina Gallego. Music by Nascuy Linares. Production Design by Angelica Perea. Costume Design by Catherine Rodriguez. Film Editing by Etienne Boussac.
A scientist at the turn of the century, suffering a mysterious tropical disease, ventures into the Amazon and enlists a native man who is the last of his tribe to help him find a plant known to have restorative powers. Decades later, another European finds the same man and asks him to guide him on the same quest, in both cases going on voyages into a rainforest photographed in haunting monochrome. Based on two separate travel journals with many sequences taken from real accounts, this unforgettable trip into the unknown is a subtle and intelligent South American Apocalypse Now, where two narratives are very comfortably juxtaposed to reveal themes of cultures burned by the greed of invaders, human connection to nature and the role of colonialism among the people of the “new world”. It sounds very vague in such a description but the feeling of mystery that hangs over the specific actions is part of what makes this awe-inspiring work of art so magical. Some sequences as beautiful and moving while others, like the unforgettable encounter with a jungle messiah, are terrifying.
Academy Award Nomination: Best Foreign Language Film
Toronto International Film Festival: 2015