Sunday, 20 September 2009


As an apt sequel to last weekend's Aguirre a return to that same amazonia, that same cicada heaving mass of buzzing canopy dropping its vertical tropical shadow onto the silty drifting flat mass below. Glory. Here is a landscape that offers so much vastness to the photographer's tiny eye, massive rolling pans over muscular trees, clich├ęs and ecological tragedies.

The moments of baroque soundtrack lend a magnificence starkly at odds with the mundane toil of the slow death of man played out on the plantation, and equally stark against the similarly caged pool girls barely alive in their haze of cynical wealth, perhaps the music conjures a time contemporary to the beginning of the rape of Brazil, and all the religion (and their choirs) that aided and abetted.

Charity mugging at the closing credits sullies and prostitutes a tragedy which should speak for itself, it hints at the cinema art's insecurity about its moral purpose, and it is so easy a fix that it jars with the rest of the film's brilliant subtle appreciation for the brutal complexity of lost innocence and technology.

Birdwatchers as a title finds its beginning as the opening scene follows binoculared tourists skimming up the river past staged natives. Natives there stripped of any dignity launching impotent arrows into the water. It goes on to draw us into a complicity in this social/emotional voyeurism. While the caged-ness of the rich and the native is glaringly mutual, along with a certain economic co-dependecy, I wonder that the voyeurism, the bird-watching, does not in fact go both ways successfully in the film, although that seemed to be the hope by under-dressing the pool girls, I don't know.

So, that is our beef that this fazendeiro is raising, when did self-loathing become this marketable?

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Phil: completely unrelated. Have you any desire to see Bath?

E-mail me. I'm hoping to come over for Marta's wedding.