for Cinetalk.net

El Abrazo de la Serpiente is Colombian director Ciro Guerra third feature and it went straight to the 2016 Oscars with a well deserved Academy Awards nomination for this beautifully shot Black and white film.

Loosely based on diaries of the Amazon by German ethnologist and explorer Theodor Koch-Grunberg (played by Belgian actor Jan Bijvoet) and American biologist Richard Evans Schultes (co-Author with chemist Albert Hoffman,  discoverer of LSD properties, of the book The Plants of the Gods), it follows the path, on two different time period, of Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and last survivor of his people who guides both men.

Obviously Guerra was searching, in part, for a clear and straight forward statement about the ominous treatment of first nations rather than being accurate with the story of the two men and in part to tell, in a poetical way, the fictionalizes final days of Grunberg. And we’re in for a travel in time and space with spiritual aspects within the great gorgeous settings where it takes place. We obviously think, because of the Amazon, of some Werner Herzog films (without the overscaled ambition though) and Ken Russell’s Altered States for the spiritual input (but with a much lighter tone) and the writings of Joseph Conrad especially in the later part. A beautiful film.

Yours to discover.

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