Monday, April 25, 2016

EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT Director Ciro Guerra Speaks About His "Violent, Psychedelic" Film


We were fortunate enough to be joined by Ciro Guerra back in October for a pair of events, including an advance screening of his EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT. The film, which critic David Edelstein has called "a reverse angle Heart Of Darkness," has become something of a sensation since then, and will surely be represented on numerous year-end Best-Of lists. We are bringing it back this week for two shows, one on Thursday April 28 and one on Sunday May 1.

Here is an LA Times interview with Guerra in which he shares some of the special challenges of working in the Amazon rain forest and also in finding a balance of perspectives in a film based on the diaries of white explorers.

Here's Guerra on the decision to shoot in black and white:
"The film is inspired by the diaries of the explorers, but also by the photographs they took — those vintage pictures that are almost daguerreotypes. It’s different from the image of the Amazon you have. It doesn't have that exuberance or the exoticism that you see in the travel brochures. It’s another world, another perspective. 
And the idea behind this perspective is very close to the idea of the indigenous perspective of the world — that the world is much bigger than our senses allow us to see. Being there I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to recreate the way the Amazon looks. The indigenous people have 50 words for the word "green." We have one. 
In this way, it was possible that the viewer could imagine things — and the Amazon the viewer imagines could be more real than what I could deliver."
On the matter of narrative perspective:
"My point of departure was the diaries. But when I went to the Amazon and I started interacting with the people there, I realized that that was the story that hadn’t been told. That’s what we Latin American filmmakers can do. The stories of the explorers have been told. What we can do is turn history on its head, give another perspective."

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