HEARTS OF DARKNESS: Embrace of the Serpent and A War

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rev 2Two movies opened recently that allowed, in a rare instance, the ability for filmgoers (at least if you live in the LA area) to actually see all the foreign language films nominated for an Academy Award before the ceremony. However, taken together, Colombia’s Embrace of the Serpent and Denmark’s A War, are a mixed bag as far as I’m concerned.

Embrace of the Serpent, written by Jacques Toulemonde Vidal and the director Ciro Guerra, is based on the diaries of the two Europeans whose trips up the Amazon are dramatized here: Theodore Koch-Grunberg, who traveled the river at the turn of the 20th century, and Richard Evans Schultes, who did the same about fifty years later.

The conceit is that the same guide, Karamakate, led them both, and both explorers had the same goal, to find a sacred plant that is supposed to be some sort of wonder drug. Continue reading