Combustible Celluloid
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With: Nilbio Torres, Antonio Bolívar, Jan Bijvoet, Brionne Davis, Luigi Sciamanna, Yauenkü Migue, Nicolás Cancino
Written by: Jacques Toulemonde Vidal, Ciro Guerra
Directed by: Ciro Guerra
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Spanish, Portuguese, German, Catalan, with English subtitles
Running Time: 125
Date: 03/11/2016

Embrace of the Serpent (2016)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Forbidden Plant

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

One of the 2015 nominees for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, Ciro Guerre's Embrace of the Serpent — from Colombia — never stood a chance of winning, but it's a beautiful, stirring, and thoughtful film, well worth seeing. It's set during two time periods, both of which feature the character Karamakate, a shaman in the Amazon jungle, the last of his people. In 1909, young Karamakate (Nilbio Torres) reluctantly agrees to help a sick white man, German explorer Theo (Jan Bijvoet) and his faithful guide Manduca (Miguel Dionisio Ramos), find a special flower that could heal him. Years later, an elderly, and forgetful Karamakate (Antonio Bolivar) meets another white man, an English botanist, Evans (Brionne Davis), who is also in search of the plant. Shot in black-and-white, the mesmerizing movie could easily have fallen into peaching or relied on liberal guilt, but instead it builds a complex character out of Karamakate, who is wise and righteous as well as outraged and untrusting. It's a respectful, poetic movie, and highly recommended.

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