Their happiness in hunting and exploring the secrets of the forests, not working under the command of others, resting and enjoying nature and sleeping peacefully, or – simply – doing what each of them wants at the time he wants. This extraordinary balance of their bodies and feelings, so closely connected with nature, has now been threatened since gold was discovered in their regions.
They are the Yanomami people who inhabited northern Brazil and southern Venezuela for more than a thousand years, and they were there for five hundred years before the arrival of the present inhabitants.
The film “The Last Forest” by Brazilian director Luis Polonesi was shown at the Swiss Visions of Reality documentary festival (15-25 April), and condemns the neglect of indigenous people over the centuries, a neglect that has worsened during the current administration in Brazil.
Jair Bolsonaro … a politician who killed the peoples of the woods
Since “Jair Bolsonaro” took office in 2019, gold miners have once again penetrated the living environment of the Yanomami River in the Brazilian-Venezuelan border region, and they are not only poisoning the water with mercury, but also bringing deadly diseases caused by Covid-19, to the These largely isolated indigenous communities, and through their promises of a glamorous modern world, are increasingly tempting the region’s youth to abandon their traditional forest life.
Some may see giving up a primitive wildlife a blessing for the natives. But do these people know how these residents think and what are the sources of their true happiness? Is there a certain happiness in the city?
In the isolated jungle, the camera captures the life of the tribe
“My people will not allow you.” The rite of expelling the white man
“The Last Forest” is a highly influential film with the strength of its images, cinematic language and style in providing another view to define a different culture. It took a cinematic style that is almost fictional, so it immerses itself in the diaries of the Yanomami people, their lifestyle and their thinking, as it lets them express automatically at times, and then follow the studied scenario at other times, This reveals a lot about peoples about whom little is known.
In the lands located in the isolated jungle, the camera detects the life of the tribe, and chooses to approach some individuals, in particular “Dave Kubenawa” (Shaman), who is the spiritual leader and sage of the group, and he co-wrote the film.
“Duffy” is fighting with the available means to preserve these lands for future generations, the simplest of which is preparations to expel the white man searching for gold in their river. The movie continues their startling preparations that include painting the body black, drawing symbols and signs on the face and body, then firing arrows away with announced shouts of attack, enough to scare three prospectors or thieves. They shout, “Go.” While the “shaman” declares, “My people will not allow you.”
If the inhabitants allow those who are numbered, they will come in the thousands later, and the nature around them will undoubtedly change, and their rivers will dry up and their lives will be upended. They are happy like this, they fall asleep early and fall asleep quickly, with no lights or cars, and they dream, and dreams are necessary with their knowledge to organize thoughts, and in dreams hidden the keys to mysteries.
“The Last Forest” is an influential film with the power of its visuals and cinematic language
The Yanomami Myths … Ancestral Culture Beliefs
The film immerses itself in the myths of the Yanomami people and the beliefs of the ancestral culture, and in their happy times, for example, when they dip in the cold waters of the river, and watch crocodiles chewing stones, know what is in the inside of the animals, they say, “In their stomachs are always such stones.”
They know a lot, but the “white man” does not know them, his eyes do not see them and his ears do not perceive their words, he does not know the children of Oumama, he does not know the Yanomami closely, and this is why the “shaman” says: I will go to their lands, I will not be afraid of them.
He will not go for fun or get fine food, but because they are the children of the forest, the last children of the forest, so they have to fight, and the “shaman” wants to teach those on the other side of the Yanomami River, the way of his people thinking, and he wants his children to have a healthy life and his daughters to become women on their land.
The Water Nymph and the Brotherhood .. Myth of Creation
The film “The Last Forest” was filmed in a dense forest, where legend merges with the diaries of the people. In the narration, reality is also mixed with imagination, and there is a quest for a visual embodiment of beliefs and dreams that are an expression of a hidden future or present that cannot be seen.
Instead of telling a myth or a dream as a lesson delivered, cinema does its work by portraying it alive as imagined by the minds, through the dramatization of the scene, and by creating this magical space the film gets rid of traditional writing and narration of my speech, to plunge into the magic of the image and the temptation of the embodied imagination.
It was important for the narration to narrate the myth, as every event in the life of this people is linked to it, and here comes the myth of creation in an atmosphere full of imagination and magic, and the film embodies it with its characters in a charming nature.
The “Shaman” recovers the myth of the initiation, where the Yanomami people believe that it came from the womb of Umama’s wife, in lands where no one lived except supernatural creatures, then the brothers Uumama and Yoasei landed, and there were no rivers, but the water was running down and its voice reached them.
Uumama digs and the water flows in all directions, and rivers, lakes, fruits and scents form in the forest, so they plant trees, but they miss the woman and feel lonely, so they wonder how two men created a woman?
Here she is in the depths of the water, a nymph who allowed herself to be picked up in the form of a woman, Uumama pulled her once, then the brother also went to pull her, but he was not gentle with her, and gave his son from her to the spirit of the devil because he was disturbing him, then the brothers fought and separated, and the mermaid lived with Uumama, She married him, and the children came, the Yanomami people.
The city, with its seduction, is an end for some whites
Tribe Diaries … a popular culture threatened by the temptations of the city
The reality comes with depicting the lives of the tribe members in their diaries, between laughter, cheerfulness, work and rest, rituals, meetings and outings, and women work in making baskets to exchange them with eggs, while the men are engaged in hunting.
The Yanomami people drink clean river water, and only in this forest they can sleep peacefully, and they do not work for others, but do what they want whenever they want, because time is what they live now, and they do not try to control the future as the white man does all the time.
They watch the birds crossing and the ants that drag their supplies, and they may wait for hours for the arrival of an animal, and they have their own interpretations of phenomena and situations, and one of them may get up exhausted in the morning, because he was fighting a leopard all night in his dream, and when the husband is late in hunting, this is because the spirits of the forest set a spell on him. Or he was taken by a herd of cattle, or eaten by a leopard, or perhaps a river mermaid had attracted him or someone lured him to go to the city.
The city, with its temptation, is a goal for some that is exploited by whites, so they resort to deliberate methods to persuade the landowners to accept their presence, cooperate with them, and help them search for gold, flooding them with gifts and good food.
But the “shaman” always warns them, for he is the one who tried all this and lived there with them, and describes that life saying: When you feel lonely, no one cares about you, no one gives you a place to sleep, and even if you learn their language you will never become one of them, and you will still ask yourself the question Who am I? So go back where you came from.