, January 30, 2015
(view all comments by Joel Hildebrandt)
This is one of my favorite movies in Spanish. It came out in 2010 and stars (Spanish actor) Luis Tosar and Mexican fave Gabriel Garcia Bernal, as well as Bolivian actor and cinema professor Juan Carlos Aduviri. A team of Spanish film makers set out to shoot a very political film of Columbus and the Conquista, using South American indigenous people to play the roles of the Caribbean natives who were so horribly treated by the Spanish explorers. An indigenous leader (Daniel, played by Aduviri) objects that the film makers are underpaying the natives. This protest is soon eclipsed by the now famous water protests of Cochabamba; Daniel is also one of the organizers of those protests, and the film makers are afraid he will ruin the film by getting himself thrown in jail. The parallel of Columbus's treatment of the indigenous and the modern exploitation of them by big corporations (in this case, Bechtel) is drawn closely and effectively.
But the film is not only about politics. What I found most powerful was the interplay between Tosar's character - a rather arrogant Spaniard with no knowledge or concern for indigenous issues - and Daniel. The Spaniard is seen to evolve slowly, believably into a person who is more "concientizado", more aware and concerned. This is a very human process, and to me it shows that racism can often be overcome through personal connections.
Excellent acting and a totally captivating plot, with characters who are far more than just symbolic.