Embrace of the Serpent | Salt Lake City Weekly
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  Rated NR · 123 minutes · 2015

Adventure, Drama
On some level, it feels like a weird sort of remake of Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man, but writer/director Ciro Guerra’s Oscar-nominated drama bypasses any kind of deadpan charm for a beautifully made but pedantic lecture on European imperialism. The narrative weaves back and forth across several decades, focusing on two somewhat parallel early 20th-century journeys through the Colombian Amazon basin—one by ethnologist Theodor von Martius (Jan Bijvoet), later by American ethnobotanist Evan (Brionne Davis)—in search of a legendary plant, both guided by solitary shaman Karamakate (as a young man by Nilbio Torres, as an older man by Antonio Bolivar). The two journeys involve various encounters with indigenous people, all focused on the harm brought to the region by rubber barons, religious zealots and generally anyone Karamakate angrily refers to as “the whites.” And while a few of these episodes are compelling—particularly at a Spanish mission turned into the cult of a self-styled Messiah—Guerra seems far less concerned with building characters or evocative images than with having Karamakate tell his white charges “You’ll devour everything” so that we can nod along. Hurray, simple wisdom vs. rapaciousness!

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Staff Rating:
Official Site: embraceoftheserpent.oscilloscope.net
Director: Ciro Guerra
Producer: Cristina Gallego
Cast: Jan Bijvoet, Brionne Davis, Nilbio Torres, Miguel Ramos, Nicolás Cancino, Luigi Sciamanna and Antonio Bolivar

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