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Embrace of the Serpent (2015)

El abrazo de la serpiente (original title)
Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama | 25 May 2015 (Colombia)
2:08 | Trailer

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The story of the relationship between Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and last survivor of his people, and two scientists who work together over the course of forty years to search the Amazon for a sacred healing plant.


Ciro Guerra


Ciro Guerra, Theodor Koch-Grünberg (based on the diary by) (as Theodor Koch-Grunberg) | 2 more credits »
4,574 ( 2,091)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 46 wins & 31 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview:
Nilbio Torres ... Young Karamakate
Antonio Bolivar ... Old Karamakate (as Tafillama-Antonio Bolivar Salvador)
Jan Bijvoet ... Theo
Brionne Davis ... Evan
Miguel Dionisio Ramos Miguel Dionisio Ramos ... Manduca (as Yauenkü Miguee)
Luigi Sciamanna Luigi Sciamanna ... Priest Gaspar / El Missionero
Nicolás Cancino Nicolás Cancino ... El Mesias
Pediwake Daniel Martinez Pediwake Daniel Martinez ... Santiago
José Sabogal José Sabogal ... El Siringuero


The story of the relationship between Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and last survivor of his people, and two scientists who work together over the course of forty years to search the Amazon for a sacred healing plant.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Adventure | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Release Date:

25 May 2015 (Colombia) See more »

Also Known As:

Embrace of the Serpent See more »

Filming Locations:

Vaupés, Colombia See more »


Box Office


$1,400,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$50,955, 21 February 2016, Limited Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The Governor of the Guainía Department, decorated Ciro Guerra (the director) with the Order of the Inírida Flower for "exalting the respect and value of the indigenous populations, likewise giving the Department recognition for tourism and culture". See more »


Old Karamakate: To become warriors, the cohiuanos must abandon all and go alone to the jungle, guided only by their dreams. In this journey, he has to find out, in solitude and silence, who he really is. He must become a wanderer dream. Many are lost, and some never return. But those who return they are ready to face what is to come.
See more »


Composed by John Francis Wade, John Reading
Performed by Coro Infantil Coloreando (Interpretada)
Conducted and directed by Luz Karime Guerra and Manuel Vargas (Dirigido)
See more »

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User Reviews

A Deeply Meditative Cinema That May Strike A Better Chord With Art-house Enthusiasts.
6 July 2016 | by CinemaClownSee all my reviews

Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at Academy Awards this year, Embrace of the Serpent is an art-house feature that offers its viewers a journey back in time into the very heart of the Amazon rainforest while painting an absorbing portrait of the indigenous culture that was destroyed by colonial invaders.

The story of Embrace of the Serpent covers two sets of events, one taking place in 1909 while the other occurs in 1940. Both segments concern an Amazonian shaman who happens to be the last of his tribe, and covers his relationship with two scientists who are determined to find a rare sacred plant that has healing properties.

Directed by Ciro Guerra, the film carves a fictional but highly original tale from the real-life accounts of the two scientists whose works have made a valuable contribution to the study of indigenous people of South America. Guerre's direction is commendable, for he has crafted this tale with elegance and the film as a whole is as thematically rich as it is beautiful to look at.

Shot in exotic locations & captured in black n white, its greyscale photography is actually fitting for the premise as well as the depicted timeline. Also, the lack of colours sort of reflect the loss of life from the region that was once home to many indigenous cultures. The camera is used like a silent observer and remains motionless for the most part, except for a few tracking shots, but it does add a serene vibe to the story.

Editing nicely intertwines the two story lines that are headed in the same direction, but the pace at which it all unfolds will divide its audience as some will appreciate it while others will be frustrated by its glacial speed. The performances from its cast carry no complaints as everyone chips in with fine contribution in their given roles, but the best input comes from the two actors who play the same character in different segments.

On an overall scale, Embrace of the Serpent is deeply meditative in content but it isn't a film for all. There is clearly a certain section of filmgoing audience that it is aimed at plus it caters well to their needs but for me, this Columbian flick was more or less a stationary experience that never shifted gears throughout its runtime. But I don't despise it for sure. All in all, Embrace of the Serpent is worth a shot but it may strike a better chord with art-house enthusiasts.

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