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Embrace of The Serpent

Indigenous person : How many edges has a river?

Whitefella: Two

Indigenous person: Why do you say that?

Whitefella: Well a river has two banks, one on the left and one on the right.

One plus One equals Two.

Indigenous person: You’re stupid, don’t you see that a river has many edges?

Two, ten, thousands of edges!”

__oOo__

If you get a chance, go and see this film set in the Lowlands of the Amazonian jungle. A black and white film whose images tell us about two explorers, whitefellas, and how they engage with indigenous people of Columbia.

The film is a dreaming, a song of a river, bringing up memories of Carlos Castaneda’s the ‘Teachings of Don Juan‘, Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness‘, and the scene in ‘Apocalypse Now‘ where the protagonists go up river to see the genocide orchestrated by Nixon’s secret war in Kampuchea/ Cambodia (1971 to 1973).

I mention Carlos Castaneda because he did a study on shamanism in Peru and he was the darling of the 1968 alternate yippie revolution featuring drugs, sex, individualism and dropping out.

Another memory that this film evoked, so savage was the tale, was Franz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth (1961, Les damnés de la terre), published shortly before the author’s death, where he defends the right of a colonized people to use violence to gain independence.

The film is a classic about the effects of colonisation on innocent people driven to despair buy missionaries, journalists, explorers , companies , exploiters.

There is a trailer on YouTube at

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