The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the day “August 5, 2020”

Embrace of the Serpent


We saw the most AMAZING film on Prime: “Embrace of the Serpent” which I cannot recommend highly enough! It’s the story of two Amazonian explorers, German Theo von Martius in 1909 and an American named Evan in 1940. They are both searching for the rare, sacred, and medicinal yakuna plant. (It’s a loosely fictionalized version, based on notes and journals, of two real explorers Theodor Koch-Grunberg and Richard Evans Schultes.)

Both explorers are led, geographically and spiritually, by Karamakate, a shaman who is the last surviving member of his tribe (the rest having been wiped out by rubber barons). Featuring Nilbio Torres as Young Karamakate and Antonio Bolívar as Old Karamakate (Both amazing in their roles; neither with any formal acting experience.)

Aside from the actors playing the explorers and a couple of other minor roles, the entire cast is composed of indigenous, inexperienced actors.

Despite its length (just over 2 hrs; we watched it over two nights), it was absolutely engrossing from beginning to end.

Filmed entirely on location in the Colombian Amazon, in black and white, the cinematography is magnificent. In indigenous languages, with some Spanish, Portuguese, and English. Subtitled.

A must-see if you are interested in ayahuasca, spritual journeys, indigenous culture/music, the history of Amazon exploration/ colonization and/or the universal human experience.

The Karamakate character reminds me  Ipo, who seems to have lived in a similar environment,  and in possession of the same universal wisdom.


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