Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I teach anthropology and I watch a lot of documentaries. Usually, I choose older films for lessons on culture. The film makers presence (except for Chagnon) is felt mainly in the editing, with little music, few voice overs, and limited screen text. In this way the viewer can listen, observe and really see the details of a forest or village - more active than passive participant. I particularly like films that make use of natural sound and allow a scene to unfold without interruption. One of my favorites is a small film, "Runa: Guardians of the Forest" about an indigenous group in Ecuador who, faced with colonization by logging companies and palm oil plantations, form a communa in an effort to claim title of their traditional homes and gardens.The Runa want to preserve their traditional way of life, to live just as their forefathers did, to teach their children forest management just as they were taught.

With the Runa in mind, seen here is an amazing film about the destruction of the rainforest in Indonesia and the loss of habitat for many animals, but mainly the orangutan. Al Jazeera reports how Patrick Rouxel's

". . . extraordinary visual essay, told with no human commentary at all, explores the impact of deforestation and the exploitation of natural resources in Indonesia from the point of view of a dying orangutan called Green. Stunning images of the natural world and its biodiversity are counter-pointed with scenes of their destruction and the resulting cruelty to animals.

The film takes viewers on an emotional journey, following Green's final days and revealing the devastating impact of logging, land-clearing and palm oil plantations."

The inhumanity of humanity. I don't know what else to say. We will let "Green" speak for its self.

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