Embrace of the Serpent Review – a truly stunning epic sweep of a movie

This Oscar-nominated Colombian arthouse feature is a mesmerizing thought-provoking journey about the ravages of colonialism on Amazonian tribes.  Comparable to Werner Herzog’s Aguirre the Wrath of God and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, Embrace of the Serpent (El Abrazo de la Serpiente) is a masterpiece in its own right, a work of visual beauty, a truly stunning epic sweep of a movie.

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At once blistering and poetic, the ravages of colonialism cast a dark shadow over the South American landscape in director Ciro Guerra’s (The Wind Journeys) third feature. Filmed in stunning black-and-white, Serpent centers on Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and the last survivor of his people, and the two scientists who, over the course of 40 years, build a friendship with him. The film was inspired by the real-life journals of two explorers (Theodor Koch-Grünberg and Richard Evans Schultes) who traveled through the Colombian Amazon during the last century in search of the sacred and difficult-to-find psychedelic Yakruna plant.

The first feature shot in the Colombian Amazon in 30 years, the film stars first-time actor Nilbio Torres, Brionne Davis (Avenged), and well-known Belgian actor Jan Bijvoet (Borgman).

Opens at TIFF Bell Lightbox and across Canada February 19th

 (Photos: Andrés Córdoba/Andres Barrientos, Courtesy of Northern Banner Releasing)

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