Review: Capitalism and Culture Collides in "Birds of Passage"

  • MUBI
Inspired by the travel diaries of Theodor Koch Grunberg (1879–1924) and Richard Evans Schultes (1915-2001), who provided two of the earliest accounts of Amazonian cultures, Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent (2015) remains one of the most potent works of recent world cinema. A story told through the eyes of a warrior shaman of the search into the heart of the Colombian Amazon for the mythical Yakruna plant, the film bears witness how colonialism, religion and the exploitation of rubber affects indigenous traditions and the environment to which they are inextricably linked. So, the stakes were high for Guerra’s next project. Co-directing with Embrace of the Serpent producer Cristina Gallego, the film doesn’t disappoint.“Told in an intimate, personal way. Our own way,”1 Birds of Passage is another formidable meditation on the corrupting forces of wealth and power, set against the backdrop of the marijuana boom of the 1970s.
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