Embrace of the Serpent

“Give him the Sun’s semen!”

Review by Lewis Goodall

Embrace of the serpent (Directed by Ciro Guerra) is a film inspired by the true life travel diaries of two adventurers, a German scientist, Theodor Koch-Grunberg (Jan Bijvot) and an American plant enthusiast Evan Schultes (Brionne Davis). Their journeys happen 40 years apart but both are accompanied by the same Amazonian Shamam, Karamakate ( Young karamakate is played by Nilbio Torres and the more wrinkled Karamakate is played by Antonio Bolivar). Although both stories take place 40 years apart they both follow the same path to attempt to find the sacred healing plant, the Yakura.

Embrace of the serpent has more hidden messages than a bowl of alphabetti spaghetti. The symbolism is off the charts from the overall message to the smallest details to the point where I definitely feel like I need to watch this film atleast another 7 times to ultimately grasp the true meaning of this film. I feel I would happily watch it that many times to learn all its secrets because it’s such a pleasure to watch.

Fade in. Greeted by a young Karamakate at the bank of a river with a spear in hand. A row boat slowly approaches with a sick Theodor and his travel companion. His travel companion begs Karamakate to help heal Theo as he needs to spread his knowledge of his traavels to the rest of the world and only Karamakate and this fabled Yakura plant will be able to help. Instantly Karamakate refuses to help cause Theodor is one of those white ass crackers but he then turns around and decides to help the poor chap.

Right away this film displays its gorgeous cinematography (which is done by David Gallego) which will instantly transport you to the Amazon jungle. The choice of going black and white for this film is very interesting and really really works. During watching I was trying to imagine it in colour and I felt that it would’ve been a distraction from the visuals, which is very strange to think considering it’s the amazon, you’d think you’d want all the vibrant colours because you liked seeing them so much on ‘Planet Earth’ but it just wouldn’t work for this. It was bold going B&W but it really paid off as I felt it really grounded you down to the gritty traditions of the tribes and each of their different ways of living. The lack of colour was compensated with the amount of movement In each shot, the way the river flows in the background of a dramatic scene was just stunning.

There is a lot going on visually but also theme-ly, that’s definitely not a word but there’s just a lot of different themes throughout the film. The fact that these stories are all inspired by the true life experiences of these two explores are baffling. I’m sure some of it was dramatised for the film but I read into it and there were scenes where they actually happened in real life. I’ll say one of the examples because there’s not much a spoiler there, unless you don’t want to no anything about this film then skip along to the next paragraph. There’s a scene in which Evan and old Karamakate encounter a religious tribe that worship a white man who claims himself to be the next messiah. This guy is dressed as Jesus with the thorn crown and talks about how he’s too tired to perform miracles today. All of the scene seeming too far fetched to be in a jungle but that was a scene inspired by true events of these men and it was just astounding.

This among other scenes were written very well and acted well also. I’d say there wasn’t much wiggle room for there to show off some top class acting so nothing in that tent stood out for me but that’s not me dissing the acting, it was all just the right amount for each scene. This film isn’t about dramatisation or over the top story lines. It’s more just a mesmerising adventure into the heart of the Amazon and the tribes that thrive within it.

Overall I really feel like I appreciate the film more after I’ve had time to reflect on it. I have to admit at some points whilst watching it I did feel a bit distracted and the feeling of getting a bit lost during it but I think that was just me in that moment so it’ll definitely be one I’ll be watching again. It’s like a buried skeleton of dinosaur and you’re the archaeologist. so far I’ve dusted away only a fraction of the dust covering this specimen and i want to keep dusting to reveal it’s full beauty. Either that or i’m dusting away at a Waitrose shopping trolley and really there’s no underling beauty, but i very much doubt that.

8 Milk Parties out of 10


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