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Instant karma: the Peace Corps were ordered to leave Bolivia two years
after the movie was released.
It could be the subject of a horror movie if it were not based on historical facts:a humanitarian organization sterilizes Indian women from Bolivia unbeknown to them.Shot in black and white,with a shoestring budget ,the movie retains enough strength to grab-and to make their mind revolt-today's audience.
A precise depiction of the way of life of these people who are still living in autocracy (see the scene when the woman refuses to sell all her eggs to the "doctors")and whose civilization is still based on their religious beliefs which they use to understand the mysterious things which happen to their wives (the coca leaves).
It's also a -reasonably justified-plea for a square deal for the underprivileged :the man's run ,searching desperately blood for his brother who can't have an operation .The short sequence in which the poor lad sees the rich people playing tennis or swimming in the pool shows what Bunuel would call "Le Charme (not so) Discret De La Bourgeoisie".
considering the turmoil in latinamerica in the late 60's, it's not hard
to imagine a film like this being made. It's now, in the new century,
that the real value comes afloat, and thanks to this little piece of
Bolivian cinematography we can recall not only the political and social
sensation in those times, but also understand some of the new up
comings in that country, considering that it has only been months since
Evo Morales arrived at the presidency.
Not a movie for a typical Hollywood style viewer, but anyone who values the social struggle and the making of low-cost films with great power and meaning will like this movie. Sadly it's very hard to get, but that will always be the problem with such movies.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In an Amerindian community in Bolivia, the peasants realize that their
women have more and more problems in getting pregnant, and many seem
unfertile. Soon they realize that the blame lies on a Western
humanitarian organization (obviously modeled after the Peace Corps) who
under the guise of family planning had been sterilizing Indian women
against their will, and decides to take revenge (the idea that the West
is actively involved in sterilizing third world women against their
will is a very common conspiracy theory and paranoia in the developing
world, but as far as I know there has never been real proof that this
has been the case, in Bolivia or elsewhere).
Director Jorge Sanjines is one of the few directors in the world that has concentrated on what you might call "Indigenist Cinema", that is cinema that deals with the lives of the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas (though Sanjines is not visibly Amerindian himself). This low budget film from 1969, spoken in Quechua and Spanish, is perhaps his better known film in a long career with not that many movies (he probably had many political and financial difficulties in raising funds for his movies throughout the years).
The movie extensively uses flashbacks, moving frequently from past to future and back. Though the movie's plot is not difficult at all to follow, apparently when Sanjinés showed the movie to Indian audiences they criticize this sort of non lineal narrative. Sanjines took their criticism into account and in his following movies used a simpler narrative structure.
At times amateurish, but nonetheless compelling, this is a good example of charged political filmmaking. Remarkably, this movie is one of the few films ever to have a real political impact: just a few years after its release, the Peace Corps were expelled from Bolivia.
The editing and cinematography are of renegade or guerilla filmmaking. The film has almost no production value of any kind. Blood of the Condor is amazingly artistic and complements the paranoia of the plot. This film is must see for every film student and amateur filmmaker!
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