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Embrace of the Serpent

(Spanish with English subtitles): The film takes place during two time periods woven together through the continuity of an Amazonian guide named Karamakate. He guides two white explorers looking for a particular plant that has sacred and psychedelic properties. The film is quite stunning; it is shot in black and white, which has the interesting effect of making the jungle and the stories it contains feel much more real. It is also a great historical story about colonialism, missionary work, and the effects the intrusion of white men had on native culture. There is one story line in particular that takes place at a Christian orphanage when the orphans are young and is revisited years later when the orphans are grown that is as fascinating as it is unsettling – there is something poetic in what is happening that is hard to explain. In one particular sequence, I was reminded of the great scenes with Marlon Brando in Apocalypse now. A huge thumbs up from me for a very thoughtful movie that is based on the real-life diaries of the two explorers. I am not sure if this movie is for everyone, but for those who are interested in native spirituality and history, the film offers both artistic beauty as well as an emotional story of the impact colonialism had on Amazonian tribal cultures. I loved it.

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