Every now and then a movie comes along that just blows my mind. Abrazo de la Serpiente, or Embrace of the Serpent in English, was one of those.
Colombian director Ciro Guerra tells a gripping tale that draws you into a mesmerising visual journey through the Amazon as you as you follow the stories of two foreign men winding their way along the river in a canoe guided by the same Amazonian shaman, Karamakate, 40 years apart.
First we meet German ethnologist Theodor Koch-Grunberg, who explores the harsh region of South America with Karamakate at the beginning of the twentieth century as he searches for the rare yakruna flower, believed to carry healing powers.
Unfolding in parallel is the story of Richard Evans Schultes from the US, who travels along a similar stretch of the river 40 years later, in the 1940s, also with Karamakate, the surviving member of a tribe that has been wiped out by foreign invasions.
The black-and-white cinematography adds to the dramatic effect of the film, while the edgy pace and camera angles serve to emit the raw energy of the jungle, its people, flora and fauna.
Abrazo de la Serpiente is a beautiful film and definitely worth watching if it’s showing anywhere near you. It has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Film category and won the Art Cinema Award in the Directors’ Fortnight section at Cannes.
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz6KjgZ2Z7Q