You might consider the Oscar-nominated foreign film, Embrace of the Serpent (2015) an unusual story about an unusual topic, yet it lingered with me for days. I can hardly put how I felt into words. Somehow, I remained linked to the sacred ambiance the film imparts or might impart depending upon your interest or receptivity.
The film chronicles two separate journeys made by two different scientists, 40 years apart. It’s loosely based on the journals of real-life figures*, recorded as they traveled through the Amazon in search of a mystical, curative plant called yakruna (or chacruna). The shaman Karamakate, the last survivor of his sacred lineage, reluctantly guides both men to their destination and respective fates.
Karamakate does not mince words when it comes to whites, whose quest for rubber and evangelical supremacy has systematically and violently destroyed his people, culture, and environment. He doesn’t trust or respect them and initially refuses to help each of these scientists when they come to call at his river junction.Continue Reading