In 1955, while a Fulbright scholar, a Manhattan painter named Tobias Schneebaum spent seven months in the Amazon basin with the Harakambut. When he returned to the US, he could no longer paint. What happened? Nearly 45 years later, filmmakers want Tobias, now 78 and suffering from Parkinson's, to return to Peru. He refuses but allows that he will revisit the Asmat in New Guinea where he spent an idyllic time years before. That trip goes well, including a serendipitous meeting with Aipit, an aging native and once Tobias' friend and lover. Tobias then agrees to go to Peru to look for the people whom he joined on a murderous raiding party. The scars of war remain as does fear. Written by
Fascinating film subject, but very incomplete coverage
I am adding my review here because i did not find my thoughts reflected in the other posted reviews. First of all, I found Tobias, the film's subject, to be an unusual and fascinating character, intellectually curious and articulate, emotionally sensitive and compassionate. In addition to giving us insight into him as a person, the film takes us to two very remote cultures in New Guinea and Peru ; we have a rare opportunity to see and learn about them.The aforementioned were the positive parts ,for me,of having seen the film.
However, the negatives were many. Foremost among them is the lack of a detailed exposition to Tobias' story.The audience is never given the information of when and WHY and how- Tobias ended up having these experiences in Peru and New Guinea.I have not read the book and doubt I will. But I have the feeling, from another reviewer's comments, that that would be the one way to have my questions answered.
In addition to this lack of explanation/exposition, the other main problem with the film is that it really does not give us much of an understanding of Tobias' life/ activities while living amongst these peoples. This film is mostly about watching Tobias as he travels back to these communities and reflects a bit on the people and his life then and now.It's an outline with little detail,all skeleton and little meat. By the way, cannibalism is a teeny weeny topic in this film; it has very little to do with the story.
With all the film's negatives, I can only guess that the filmmakers were underfunded, inexperienced, disorganized, unable to focus and keep to a goal. The story had such potential; what a shame.
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