Embrace Of The Serpent (El Abrazo De La Serpiente) (2016)
Critic Consensus: As rich visually as it is thematically, Embrace of the Serpent offers a feast of the senses for film fans seeking a dose of bracing originality.
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Critic Reviews for Embrace Of The Serpent (El Abrazo De La Serpiente)
Unique and intoxicating, an art movie that grips like a thriller.
It is gripping, challenging, engrossing stuff, beginning to end. Seriously, what a film.
[Karamakate is] a frankly great character in a thoroughly gripping film.
This stunning historical drama, shot mainly in black and white across the Amazon region of Colombia, focuses on a shaman who's approached at different points by white men seeking medicinal substances.
Though some of the concepts may be New Age boilerplate, the film's images linger; especially that of the river, the snake devouring us all.
Audience Reviews for Embrace Of The Serpent (El Abrazo De La Serpiente)
To quote Indiana Jones, "Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?" Well, they are connected to the creation story of the natives who live along the Amazon river. The subplots about missionaries and Europeans exploiting the natural resources such as rubber trees gives good context to the story. The locations around Columbia are so beautiful in black and white. The plot jumps forward and back in time as young Karamakate (Nilbio Torres) and old Karamakate (Antonio Bolivar) each guide a European scientist through the winding river and forests. Karamakate is alone in the world, a warrior survivor with a powerful memory. The largest portion of the film takes place in 1909 when sick scientist Theo (Jan Bijvoet) is keeping a diary and hoping to get back to his colleagues in "civilization" for medical aid. Secondarily, in 1940 another scientist named Evan (Brionne Davis) arrives with a tape recorder tracing the journey that Theo took based on his diary. Both Europeans learn much from Karamakate although he never grows to trust either of them very much. This adventure explores life and our place in the world through gorgeous photography, the evil of colonialism, and a hallucinatory sacred plant.
"Embrace of the Serpent" is an amazing exercise in psychedelia. It concerns two generations of German scientists who traverse the Amazonian wilderness with the same medicine man. I can't fully say I've seen the film (twice) though because I can't find decent enough subtitles for it. The files that I have found for it are extremely poorly translated, and I don't think I can rightly surmise the profundity of it without seeing an officially sanctioned DVD or Blu-ray copy. Anyway, it is beautifully shot in black and white, then for the psychedelic climax it switches to color. It is on the level with Jodorowsky's "The Holy Mountain" once it reaches that point. It is an absolutely beautiful and visceral experience, and you should watch it in the highest definition you possibly can.
Ciro Guerra creates a powerful film of transcendent beauty about the arrogance of the Western white man in relation to Native American cultures. Full review on filmotrope. com
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