Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
The Embrace of the Serpent
Ciro Guerra's Oscar-nominated film "The Embrace of the Serpent" is a hypnotic and gripping analysis of two European explorers and their exchanges with indigenous people. It is as rich and satisfying as any novel by Joseph Conrad or Patrick White.
In a parallel story, Evan (Brionne Davis) an American botanist, strives to retrace Theo's path and find the yakruna plant that has hallucinogenic and divine properties. Evan also meets the now older Karamakate (Antonio Bolivar) and tries to persuade him that he is not a conquerer. Needless to say, history repeats itself. Evan tries to ingratiate himself but this has little success; Karamakate merely tolerates the Westerner. The two happen upon the same missionary school depicted in the first segment, but the school has now grown severe, with a raving self-proclaimed Jesus figure and some quasi-voodoo rituals. Evan is increasingly left by himself, mute and silent with questions for company.
Gradually one realizes that Theo and Evan are very much the same person.
The cinematography by David Gallego is extraordinary, showing the carnal beauty of the jungle in a black and gray exoticism. This, combined with the enigmatic and often unsettling story, gives the film a one two punch. The hallucinatory montage alone is as startling as it is surprising leaping off the screen with a burst equal in power to the first revelation of color shown in "The Wizard of Oz."
But above all "The Embrace of the Serpent" meticulously illuminates a clash of cultures with care and feeling, while also depicting a wilderness with the strange magic of a far away and distant planet.
Write Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org