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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Xingu (SIFF 2012) - Movie Review


"Xingu" is based on the true story of three brothers looking for adventure who end up changing the course of Brazilian history. Told in dramatic fashion with an emphasis on sweeping visuals that make the jungles as much of a character in the story as any of the people, this movie draws its audience in to the story and makes everyone feel like they are part of a truly historic experience.


Set during the mid 20th century in Brazil, Claudio (João Miguel), Orlando (Felipe Camargo), and Leonardo (Caio Blat) con their way on to a government expedition that will explore the Amazon jungle to find land suitable for building roads and airfields. What they find is a cluster of indigenous tribes that welcome visitors but are hesitant to allow western culture in to their lives.


After making good progress in developing positive relationships with the various tribes, the brothers's efforts are put to the test when a catastrophe hits one of the villages and the government continues to push for more development and occupation of lands they do not own. What started out as three men looking to change their ordinary lives has turned in to a fight for the survival of cultures and history that has existed for centuries.


There is so much to like about this movie between the great acting performances by the principle cast and the absolutely beautiful cinematography, it is hard to find any flaws in director Cao Hamburger's efforts. The most important part of what makes this movie works is that you constantly feel like you are right there in the middle of the jungles going through every success and hardship along the way.


At times, I did feel like the movie had trouble with getting bogged down in the details of what needed to be told and at other times I felt some parts of the story lost their impact because not enough time was spent on fleshing them out. With any film that covers a large amount of time (in this case nearly 20 years), it can be hard to pick and choose what to focus on and what are the most important things to tell so I can forgive a few missteps along the way.


What is most important is being able to tell this amazing story that I'm sure no one outside of Brazil really knew anything about. The heroism and drama is very real and I am thankful that I was introduced to not only the three amazing men, but all of the people they affected along the way. Claudio, Orlando, and Leonardo truly deserve their place in history.


Check out my other 2012 SIFF reviews HERE!

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