2016: #6 Embrace of the Serpent

4-2-2016EmbraceOfTheSerpent
Directed by
: Ciro Guerra
Written by: Ciro Guerra and Jacques Toulemonde Vidal
Starring: Nilbio Torres, Antonio Bolívar, Jan Bijvoet, and Brionne Davis
Distributor: Oscilloscope
Country: Columbia
Language: Cubeo, Huitoto, Ticuna, Wanano, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and English
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Date released: 2/17/2016
Date seen: 4/2/2016
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $3.2 Million
# of Oscar nominations: 1 (Best Foreign Language Film 2015)
# of Golden Stake Nominations: 2 (Cinematography and Original Screenplay)
# of Golden Stakes Won: 0

Though it didn’t get U.S. distribution until well into 2016 Embrace of the Serpent was part of the exceptionally good 2015 class of Best Foreign Language Film nominees at the Oscars last year and it didn’t have a terribly large profile before then, so for once that institution’s tendency to pick strange movies out of obscurity was a force for good.  The film is about two separate journeys (which the film bounces back and forth between) that an indigenous Amazonian named Karamakate took many years apart guiding white anthropologist types.  Between the two stories we see how Karamakate has changed over the years but also the toll that colonialism has taken on the native populations.  Shot in Black and White and in widescreen, the film makes no compromises in its visuals and its smart screenplay is one of the best depictions of indigenous peoples I’ve seen in a movie in quite a while. The film works very effectively as an adventure movie of sorts (albeit a highly realistic one), as a political statement, as a character study, and as just a strange sometimes hallucinogenic trip into the jungle.

#7 Year End Honors #5
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