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Embrace of the Serpent(El abrazo de la serpiente)

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Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina · 2015
2h 5m
Director Ciro Guerra
Starring Nilbio Torres, Antonio Bolivar, Brionne Davis, Jan Bijvoet
Genre Adventure, Drama

The epic story of the first contact, encounter, approach, betrayal and, eventually, life-transcending friendship, between Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman, last survivor of his people, and two scientists that, over the course of 40 years, travel through the Amazon in search of a sacred plant that can heal them. Inspired by the journals of the first explorers of the Colombian Amazon, Theodor Koch-Grunberg and Richard Evans Schultes.

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What are critics saying?


Village Voice by Alan Scherstuhl

Colombian director Ciro Guerra's Embrace of the Serpent is a legitimate stunner, a river-trip that will mesmerize and jack with you, leaving you not quite certain, at its end, how to go about the rest of your day.


CineVue by Ben Nicholson

The languorous pacing - particularly in the middle section - may lessen the impact on audiences somewhat, and the two-hour runtime seems a little much, but this is important, harrowing and deeply heartfelt lament that deserves to be seen and most definitely heard.


Entertainment Weekly by Chris Nashawaty

While its strange rhythms may not be for everyone, it does provide something unusual in today’s movies: a truly original experience for the mind and the soul.


The Playlist by Jessica Kiang

It's an absorbing, even thrilling head trip. It is a Heart-of-Darkness voyage of discovery. It is a lament for all the lost plants and peoples of the world.


The Hollywood Reporter by Jordan Mintzer

If the film runs a tad too long, especially in its second half, Embrace of the Serpent is still an absorbing account of indigenous tribes facing up to colonial incursions, revealing how Westerners are in many ways far behind the native peoples they conquer.


Variety by Justin Chang

The film would nonetheless benefit from occasional tightening, its digressions and longueurs occasionally moving beyond the lyrical and into the belabored. Nevertheless, as a vision of the past, “Embrace of the Serpent” offers a stately, striking panorama and an entirely persuasive one.


The Film Stage by Michael Snydel

The movie is more about how outsiders – whether consciously or unconsciously – exert control. The repercussions of colonialism hover over the text even as these characters have “noble” intentions.


Screen International by Tim Grierson

The going can be a bit slow at first, but the interweaving narratives, which comment on (and sometimes echo) each other, begin to develop a hypnotic grandeur. It’s a hell of a trip.

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