Thursday, June 13, 2019

"Birds" tells epic tale of greed & pride's downfall

Rarely do modern movies resemble a folk tale about indigenous Colombian people rising from their middle-of-the-desert poverty to vast riches and power like in Cristina Gallego's and Ciro Guerra's Pajaros de Verano (Birds of Passage), a film so subtle and underplayed that it may have been a product of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's unpublished mind.  As Rapayet (first time actor Jose Acosta) attempts to marry the woman of his dreams, Zaida (Natalia Reyes), he ventures on a journey in order to gather numerous goats and cows to present her family as dowry.  This journey will sidetrack him onto an illegal drug trade that will expand exponentially and corrupt him and everyone he holds dear indefinitely.

Pajaros de Verano is a wise movie, one that paces itself ever so slowly to present us with a dilemma of people who are not so much evil as they are easily manipulated by greed and family pride that it inevitably leads to their ultimate demise.  Expanding from the late 1960s until the early 1980s, the film is almost entirely in Wayuu - an old, indigenous form of Spanish, spoken in northwestern Venezuela and northeastern Colombia - but it never suffers in communicating to us the message it so strongly holds dear: that power corrupts, and never more so than when an old tradition conflicts with modern day capitalism.  Pajaros de Verano is a film for the ages, a story that could take place at any point in human history, and still be as relevant as ever.

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