Home
Films about the Indigenous Peoples of
EL PERÚ

Yawar Fiesta Aguirre Tupac Amaru
Fitzcarraldo Secret of the Incas

Yawar Fiesta; Aguirre; Tupac Amaru; Fitzcarraldo; The Secret of the Incas


This Page:
HISTORICAL FILMS

(1600s to 1970s)
Next Page:
CONTEMPORARY FILMS

(1980s to the present)



= Lame, Crummy.     = OK, Watchable.     = Good.     = Very Good.     = Great, Classic.

  16th CENTURY

THE ROYAL HUNT OF THE SUN
Director:Irving Lerner
Writer:Philip Yordan
Cinematography:Roger Barlow
Music:Mark Wilkinson
Year/length:1969. 118 minutes. Rated G.
Setting:Spain and Cajamarca, 1531-33
Language:English
Indian Content:medium
Home Release:DVD
Rating: lousy ok

Based on a play by Peter Shaffer. English actors play Spaniard and Inca alike in this stiff, verbose drama, which isn't nearly as cool as the cover suggests. We begin with a long debate between Francisco Pizarro and King Carlos about whether Spain should fund another expedition to the New World. In this long first scene the film still feels like a play. When we finally get to Peru, Christopher Plummer brings a welcome eccentricity to the role of the Inka Atawalpa, whose empire is pulled out from under his feet. The film's viewpoint is entirely European, with little sympathy for the conquered. This Cinemascope production seems like a last gasp from the old-school historical epics before a grittier style took over.

Sinopsis en español:
Francisco Pizarro rapta al Inka Atawalpa, prometiendo liberarlo si le consiguen una gran suma de oro. Con el paso de los días Pizarro desarrollará una honorable relación con Atawalpa y dudará entre sus conflictos morales.


Aguirre, the Wrath of God DVD

AGUIRRE, DER ZORN GOTTES
(Aguirre, the Wrath of God)
Director/writer:Werner Herzog
Cinematography:Thomas Mauch
Music:Popol Vuh
Year/length:1972. 100 minutes. Rated PG.
Setting:Amazon River, 1560
Language:German (dubbed into English), some Quechua & Yagua
Indian Content:low
Home Release:DVD (German or English audio)
Rating: lousy ok good very good excellent

The Quechua Indians play minor roles, and the Amazon-dwelling Yagua Indians appear even more briefly, but they loom large over the fate of the hubristic conquistadors in this masterpiece by German director Werner Herzog. After seeking his fortune in the Peruvian highlands, the renegade soldier Lope de Aguirre (c. 1510-1561) joins an expedition down the Amazon with 300 Spanish soldiers and several hundred Quechua prisoners to find El Dorado, the City of Gold. Aguirre mutinies against the leader Pedro de Ursúa and his successor, Fernando de Guzmán, eventually claiming himself Prince of Peru and the Wrath of God. German actor Klaus Kinski is brilliant as the mad, limping conquistador driving his companions to doom on the unknown Amazon and makes this historical drama feel more like a horror film. The migration of Spain's worst criminals to the New World would shape the history of Latin America for centuries to come.

Sinopsis en español:
La fascinante historia de Lope de Aguirre, el desquiciado conquistador español del siglo XVI, quien luego de separarse de la expedición de Gonzalo Pizarro, intentó descubrir la mítica ciudad de El Dorado, perdida en la inmensidad del Amazonas. A medida que el explorador lleva a sus hombres a una muerte segura, el film enfrenta al espectador a perturbadores temas como el imperialismo y el fanatismo religioso. Joya de excepcional belleza y fuerza cinematográfica.



EL DORADO
Director/writer:Carlos Saura
Cinematography:Teodoro Escamilla
Music:Alejandro Massó
Year/length:1988. 149 minutes.
Setting:Amazon River, 1560s
Language:Spanish
Indian Content:medium-low
Home Release:VHS (no subtitles) or Region 2 DVD
Rating: lousy ok good very good

It's surprising that anyone attempted to bring this story to the screen again after Herzog's critically acclaimed Aguirre. Spanish director Saura has not added a bold new vision to the myth, or even a new twist. He simply made a longer movie. It moves slowly, and it takes a while for Lope de Aguirre to emerge as an interesting character, but the cinematography, period details and acting are all excellent. If you watch El Dorado without having seeing Herzog's Aguirre, it's a great movie. It just doesn't quite have that extra trace of genius that makes the earlier film so riveting.

Sinopsis en español:
La historia épica de 300 hombres que apostaron sus tierras e incluso sus almas para tomar parte en el descenso del más impresionante y desconocido río del mundo, cruzando la jungla salvaje del Amazonas, en busca de la legendaria tierra del oro; en búsqueda de El Dorado.


  17th CENTURY
El bien esquivo

EL BIEN ESQUIVO
(The Elusive Good)
Directors:Augusto Tamayo San Román
Writers:Augusto Tamayo, Alejandro Rossi
Cinematography:Juan Durán
Music:Víctor Villavicencio, Irene Vivanco
Year/length:2001. 146 minutes.
Setting:various parts of Peru, 1618
Language:Spanish, occasional Quechua
Indian Content:medium-low
Home Release:VHS (no subtitles)
Rating: lousy ok good very good

Jerónimo de Ávila, a mestizo soldier in the Spanish army, returns to his native Peru to find legal proof that he is the legitimate son of a Spanish captain. He seeks out the small town where his Quechua mother, whom he has not seen in years, is now dying. Meanwhile, the Jesuit priests are carrying out a purge of all traces of the indigenous religion, seeking the sacred objects (huacas or wakas in Quechua) hidden in homes and churches. A parallel plotline tells the story of Sor Ines, a novitiate nun who secretly writes secular poetry. When Jeronimo flees from police after killing a man in a tavern brawl, he ducks into the convent and hides in Ines' cell. The two stories are connected thematically, both exploring the conflict between church suppression and the individual's need to be true to oneself. With excellent cinematography and a meticulously recreated 17th century Peru, El bien esquivo is one of the nation's most ambitious big-budget productions. Unfortunately the film doesn't show a great deal of indigenous culture. Jeronimo is an unlikeable rogue, his reunion with his mother on her deathbed lacks tenderness, and since he has rejected his Quechua past, the film doesn't dwell on it much either.
Official site: http://argos.com.pe/elbienesquivo/principal.htm

Sinopsis en español:
Perú, año 1618. Un hombre llamado Jerónimo de Ávila (Diego Bertie), de origen mestizo, es decir, hijo de padre español con madre india; pretende poseer parte de la herencia de su padre ya fallecido, pero sus hermanos de madre al parecer española, lo llaman bastardo y no lo quieren en la familia. Jerónimo sabe que la única forma de demostrar que tiene un nombre y apellido es buscando unos papeles que demuestren que su padre estuvo casado con Francisca Chaupistana. Jerónimo lo que quiere finalmente es buscar y encontrar su posición en el mundo. Inés Vargas de Carvajal (Jimena Lindo) es una monja cuya vida transcurre en el Convento de las Cayetanas. Realmente no le gusta eso de estar encerrada ahí. A ella lo que le gusta es escribir poemas de corte erótico que la llevan a mundos de placer que la hacen feliz. Mientras que nadie descubra lo que ella escribe por las noches, será feliz aunque sea cuando llegue las noches y escriba todo lo que escribe. Un día Jerónimo mata a un hombre en una apuesta por la mujer de este último, las fuerzas del orden empiezan a perseguirlo y él logra treparse y esconderse en el Convento de las Cayetanas. Su camino se cruza con Inés Vargas. La vida les tiene planteado un nuevo futuro para ambos. El film muestra lugares históricos del Perú como la Fortaleza del Real Felipe, el Convento de Santo Domingo, el Convento de San Francisco, la Huaca Huallamarca, la Laguna de Huacachina y Ticlio.

  18th CENTURY

TÚPAC AMARU
Director/writer:Federico García
Cinematography:Rodolfo López
Music:Juan Márquez
Year/length:1984. 95 minutes.
Setting:Lima, Cusco, Ollantaytambo, Sangarará, 1770s-80s
Language:Spanish, some Quechua
Indian Content:high
Home Release:none
Rating: lousy ok good very good excellent

A retelling of the Inca uprising led by Túpac Amaru II.Born José Gabriel Condorcanqui in 1742, he was a mestizo and received a Jesuit education. The Spanish government recognized him as the cacique of Tungasuca and Pampamarca in the Cusco region. In this capacity he tried to persuade the Spanish authorities to improve the living conditions of the Indians and end the practice of mita, the Inca tradition of community service which under colonial rule had degenerated into sefdom. Thousands of Indians were sent against their will to work in mines of Potosi (in Alto Peru, now Bolivia) where most of them died of mercury poisoning. When peaceful negotiations failed, Condorcanqui rejected Spanish authority, adopted the name of his great-great-grandfather Túpac Amaru (1545-1572), the last Inca. He amassed an army of 6000 Indians and led them into battle against the Spanish in 1780. Despite some early victories, the rebellion was defeated within a year. The entire story is told in flashbacks during a courtroom drama, and the film ends with the cruel execution of Túpac Amaru in the plaza of Cusco where the first Túpac Amaru was also executed. Despite the tragic ending the film is actually quite inspiring. The final, defiant voiceover is from Alejandro Romualdo's poem "Canto Coral a Túpac Amaru" and predicts an eventual victory for the Indians. In 1975, the plaza which had come to be known as Waqaypata, The Place of Tears, bore witness to the creation of the Organización Agraria Revolucionaria Túpac Amaru, and the film closes with that victory. Thus the film is in effect a prequel for Federico Garcia's first film, Kuntur Wachana (see below under Contemporary Setting). Like many of Garcia's other films, Túpac Amaru is loaded with historical references to people, places, laws, customs, etc. that are likely to confuse non-Peruvian audiences. Reading up on the history before watching his films is recommended for full appreciation.

Sinopsis en español:
Reconstrucción histórica de la gran revolución social e independentista del Inca José Gabriel Túpac Amaru, ocurrida a fines del S. XVIII. Los múltiples abusos cometidos por los encomenderos españoles, particularmente en el trabajo de las minas y obrajes, desatan la sublevación de los indígenas que se inicia con el apresamiento y ejecución del corregidor Antonio de Arriaga en el pueblo de Tinta. El pronunciamiento concluye con el sitio del Cusco y la prisión y muerte del Inca, sus familiares y principales capitanes, en la plaza principal de dicha ciudad.

Canto Coral a Túpac Amaru
de Alejandro Romualdo

Lo harán volar con dinamita.
En masa, lo cargarán, lo arrastrarán.
A golpes le llenarán de pólvora la boca.
Lo volarán: ¡y no podrán matarlo!

Lo pondrán de cabeza. Arrancarán sus deseos, sus dientes y sus gritos.
Lo patearán a toda furia. Luego lo sangrarán: ¡y no podrán matarlo!

Coronarán con sangre su cabeza:
Sus pómulos, con golpes. Y con clavos sus costillas. Le harán morder el polvo.
Lo golpearán: ¡y no podrán matarlo!

Le sacarán los sueños y los ojos.
Querrán descuartizarlo grito a grito.
Lo escupirán. Y a golpe de matanza, lo clavarán: ¡y no podrán matarlo!

Querrán volarlo y no podrán volarlo.
Querrán romperlo y no podrán romperlo.
Querrán matarlo y no podrán matarlo.
Querrán descuartizarlo, triturarlo, mancharlo, pisotearlo, desalmarlo.

Querrán volarlo y no podrán volarlo.
Querrán romperlo y no podrán romperlo.
Querrán matarlo y no podrán matarlo.
Al tercer día de los sufrimientos, cuando se crea todo consumado, gritando: ¡libertad!
Sobre la tierra, ha de volver.

Y no podrán matarlo.


  EARLY 20th CENTURY: Fiebre de caucho

FITZCARRALDO
Director/writer:Werner Herzog
Cinematography:Thomas Mauch
Music:Popol Vuh
Year/length:1982. 158 minutes. Rated PG.
Setting:Iquitos and Ashaninka territory, early 1900s
Language:English
Indian Content:medium
Home Release:DVD
Rating: lousy ok good very good

Werner Herzog's thematic sequel to his earlier Amazon film, Aguirre (see above). This time Klaus Kinski plays a gentler madman, an English entrepreneur named Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, loosely based on the rubber baron Carlos Fermín Fitzcarrald (1862-1897). The historical Fitzcarrald enslaved Indians and killed any who refused to work for him, but Herzog's Fitzcarraldo dreams of building an opera house in the Amazon. In order to finance his grandiose, Gatsby-esque dream, Fitzcarraldo tries to make his rubber business more profitable by moving it upriver to a more remote and abundant source of rubber trees. When a bend in river turns out to be unnavigable, he decides to bypass the bend by hauling his ship over a steep hill. Fitzcarraldo enlists the aid of dozens of Asháninka Indians to lift the ship uphill with a complex system of pulleys. But the Englishman doesn't realize that the Asháninka have their own motive for helping him. Fitzcarraldo is surprisingly similar to Herzog's previous Kinski-in-the-Amazon film, Aguirre and some critics found it too imitative of the earlier work, (same actor, same river, same country, etc.) But it is a magnificent film in its own right. The Asháninka don't appear until an hour into the film, but it's worth the wait. Also recommended: Burden of Dreams, a feature-length documentary on the making of Fitzcarraldo, available on DVD.

Sinopsis en español:
Fitzcarraldo es un hombre obsesionado por la ópera y sueña con construir un teatro para representar espectáculos operísticos en plena selva amazónica. Una ventura muy costosa, que le obliga a exportar el caucho de una recóndita zona de la jungla, algo imposible sin un barco. Pero el problema reside en cómo trasladar un barco a través de las montañas. La ilusión y el genio humanos parecen ser la única esperanza para sobrevivir en un medio completamente hostil.


EL SOCIO DE DIOS
(God's Partner)
Director:Federico García
Writers:Federico García, Roger Rumrill
Cinematography:Rodolfo López
Music:Juan Marquez
Year/length:1986. 120 minutes.
Setting:Iquitos and Putumayo, 1895-1912
Language:Spanish
Indian Content:medium-low
Home Release:VHS
Rating: lousy ok good

While Fitzcarraldo takes an extremely benevolent view of the rubber boom, El socio de Dios exposes the atrocies of this holocaust in the Amazon. Julio Cesar Arana (1864-1952) is a hat seller in Iquitos but sees an opportunity for riches in the sudden world-wide demand for rubber. He quickly dominates the market, buying up land in the Putumayo region of the Amazon and forcing Huitoto Indians (here played by Chama and Bora Indians) to harvest the rubber. His right-hand man, Loayza, tortures the Huitotos with whipping, burning, rape, and murder. A cadre of activists, including the British investigator Roger Casement, works to expose their crimes, reporting the death of 30,000 men, women and children. Finally, the Huitotos rebel, bringing some welcome suspense to the story. Although many explanatory captions are provided, the film remains somewhat chaotic and confusing, hopping from one scene to another. In 2012 Federico Hurtado published a novel version of El socio de Dios.

Sinopsis en español:
El cauchero Julio César Arana impone su dominio en las selvas del Putumayo y forja un imperio gracias a la explotación inhumana de las tribus indígenas. Sus abusos despiertan el interés de la Sociedad Antiesclavista de Londres que logra, tras una dilatada batalla legal y política, mover al juez peruano Carlos Valcárcel para que, con grave riesgo de su vida, determine la prisión de Arana, apodado "El Socio de Dios" y la disolución de su compañía. Lo que ignoran el propio juez y sus colaboradores es que tras la mano de los humanistas ingleses, se esconde la codicia de las compañías caucheras que han logrado transplantar la "hebea brasiliense" a sus plantaciones del sudeste asiático y pretenden sacar el caucho peruano del mercado. Cae Arana pero también termina la "Fiebre del Caucho" y se cierra otro ciclo económico en la amazonía.

  1930s

JARAWI
Directors:Cesar Villanueva & Eulogio Nishiyama
Writer: Cesar Villanueva
Cinematography:Cesar Villanueva & Eulogio Nishiyama
Music: Armando Guevara Ochoa
Year/length:1966. 82 minutes.
Setting:Cusco
Language:Quechua, Spanish
Home Release:none

A young landowner in Cusco is in a relationship with one of the girls who works on his farm, but then he falls in love with a visitor from Lima. The farm girl seeks to regain his love with the help of Mariano, a harpist who has moved to Chinchero in search of a better life. When Mariano becomes the victim of a sacrifice, the farmers rebel against the landowner. Loosely based on the story "Diamantes y pedernales" by Jose Maria Arguedas. "Jarawi" in Quechua is a sad love song. The film was criticized for its technical problems, out-of-sync dialogue, and inexpressive acting on the part of Cesar Zarate (Mariano) and Teodoro Nunez Rebaza (the landowner). Unfortunately no copies of this film survive. The negatives were destroyed in a fire in Buenos Aires.

Sinopsis en español:
Un joven gamonal cusqueño es amante de una campesina que le canta canciones de amor. Pero se enamora de una visitante limeña, suscitando los celos de su prometida andina. Ella busca reconquistarlo con la ayuda de la música de un arpista que luego de abandonar su pueblo de origen se ha radicado en Chinchero en busca de mejores posibilidades. El arpista se convierte en víctima de una inmolación que provoca la rebelión de los campesinos contra el gamonal. Este film ya no existe.


Los perros hambrientos VHS

LOS PERROS HAMBRIENTOS
(Hungry Dogs)
Director/writer:Luis Figueroa
Cinematography:Kurt Rosenthal
Music:Omar Arayo
Year/length:1976. 100 minutes.
Setting:unnamed mountain village
Language:Spanish
Indian Content:high
Home Release:VHS (no subtitles)
Rating: lousy ok good very good

Based on the classic 1937 novel by Ciro Alegría (1909-1967), this film follows the lives of several families--Indian, cholo, and white--in an unnamed hamlet in the altiplano. We meet the weathly landowner Don Cipriano, his mayordomo Don Romulo, and various families who work the land through times of plenty and times of drought. We also meet the bandit brothers Blas and Julian Celedón, who steal from their neighbors and are finally ambushed and killed by a sherrif from the city. The army forcibly conscripts Mateo, whose wife and 9-year-old son are left to fend for themselves. And then there is the central family of Simón Robles, a famed storyteller and sheepdog breeder. They each have their own story, and it can be confusing to keep track of them all if you haven't read the book (which has never been published in English). The film has a documentary-like style, with an anthropologist's attention to detail, showing the family working the fields, cooking and eating on the ground, scrubbing their home-made dishes with corn cobs, feeding their sheep and dogs, singing their folksongs, telling stories, or just wandering the countryside. Like the novel, the film begins with a slice-of-life feel to be savored for its images and humor, but slowly turns into a excruciating account of a drought told in gruesome detail. Luis Figueroa also directed Kukuli and Yawar Fiesta. Check out his blog at luifigueroa.blogspot.com

CAST:
Simón - Juan del Campo
Juana - Rosalia Ascencio
Antuca - Olga del Campo
Timoteo - Gregorio Solano
Don Cipriano - Mario Arrieta
Abdulio - Hugo Diaz
Don Rómulo - Jorge Yupanqui
Mateo - Luis del Campo
Martina - Arsenia Arroyo
Damián - Rosita del Campo
Mashe - Nicanor Delgado
Julián - Cesar Cotrina

Sinopsis en español:
La vida de Simón Robles y su familia transcurre en la hacienda Páucar, situada en un valle de los Andes. Simón, patriarcal, poseedor de una gran sabiduria popular, gran conocedor y criador de perros pastores junto con Juana su mujer, y sus hijos Antuca y Vicenta, las pastoras y Timoteo, trabajan como colonos para Don Cipriano, dueño de vidas y haciendas. Los bandoleros Blas y Julián Celedon asolan la región, robando el ganado, y el alférez Culebrón es llamado de la ciudad para capturarlos. De otra parte, el otro hacendado Don Juvencio utilizando artimañas legales, se apodera de las tierras de la comunidad de Huaira, y estos van al Simón Robles para ayuda. La familia debe soportar la sequía y tratar de sobrevivir. Los perros son los compañeros de los protagonistas, conviven con las ovejas, pero cuando arrecia la sequía se tornan agresivos y devoran a las ovejas. Acosados por el hambre los campesinos piden comida al patrón, al verse rechazados ocupan el granero, pero son reprimidos. Basado en la novela homónima de Ciro Alegría.


Yawar Fiesta VHS

YAWAR FIESTA
(Fiesta de sangre)
(Blood Festival)
Director:Luis Figueroa
Writers:Luis Figueroa, César Pérez
Cinematography:Julio Lencina, Eulogio Nishiyama
Music:Kiri Escobar
Year/length:1982. 90 minutes
Setting:Puquio (a town in Ayacucho), 1930s
Language:Spanish, Quechua
Indian Content:medium
Home Release:VHS (only the Quechua is subtitled)
Rating: lousy ok good very good

Puquio, a town in Ayacucho (halfway between Lima and Cusco), has a tradition of holding bullfights each year on July 28, the Peruvian Independence Day. This year the K'ayau, one of four indigenous communities in the town, decide to capture Misitu, a legendary wild bull that roams Don Julian's land. They get permission from Don Julian, but find resistance from other quarters: the whites in town want to forbid the barbaric custom, and the goverment declares they must hire a professional bullfighter from Lima. The Lucanas Union, an Indigenist advocacy group inspired by Mariategui and comprised of assimilated urban mestizos, praises the government for preventing the Indians from being injured in the bullfight, not realizing that the K'ayau themselves want to participate, welcoming the opportunity to prove their manhood, which is normally suppressed under their landowner bosses. Complicating matters further, another Indian community in Puquio, the K'oñanis, regard Misitu as an auki, a mountain spirit, and consider it sacriligious to capture the sacred bull for the festival. Don Julian, a brutal landowner notorious for abusing his Indians, favors the manly sport, ironically putting himself on the side of the Indians, though he is locked up for his aggressive quarrels with the mayor. Finally the professional bullfight arrives and the mayor orders his troops to shoot any Indian who attempts to participate in the bullfight. But when the crucial moment comes, the excitement of the bloody festival and the striking image of a condor tied to the back of the bull leaves the troops awestruck as the Indians enter the fray.

Yawar Fiesta is based on the 1941 novel by José María Arguedas (1911-1969). An anthropologist, novelist, and poet, Arguedas was brought up bilingually, learning Quechua from the servants in his house. He wrote poetry in Quechua, but for his novels he developed a hybrid of Spanish words and Quechua syntax which allowed him to express an indigenous view of the world. Luis Figueroa's film translates this vision to the screen through a naturalistic style, with the strident sound of Wakawakra horns (bullhorns played before the bullfight), charangos, and the mysterious danzak, or scissor dancer. Much of the story is told through arguments over the bullfight in the town hall and in the saloon, and the subtleties of social class that spur the conflict may not be apparent to all viewers, especially if you haven't read the book. Arguedas' intention was to explore these class differences and portray the full panorama of the contradictory society he was born in.

Sinopsis en español:
En Puquio, Ayacucho, los indios se preparan para celebrar la tradicional corrida de toros salvajes. La comunidad K'ayau capturan al Misitu, toro legendario. Un conflicto estalla cuando el gobierno emite la prohibición de corridas de toros que en que no participe un diestro profesional. Pese a la orden de disparar contra el primer indio que desafíe la prohibición, la celebracion indígena se realiza entre cantos y vítores.


   1950s - 1960s


DIARIOS DE MOTOCICLETA
(Motorcycle Diaries)
Director:Walter Salles
Writer:Jose Rivera
Cinematography:Eric Gautier
Music:Gustavo Santaolalla
Year/length:2004. 126 minutes.
Setting:Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Machu Picchu, Colombia, Venezuela, 1951-2
Language:Spanish; a few lines of Quechua
Indian Content:low
Home Release:DVD
Rating: lousy ok good very good

Before he became "El Che," the medical student Ernesto Guevara (1928-1967, played by Gael García Bernal) and his biochemist friend Alberto Granado (1922-2011, played Rodrigo de la Serna) embarked on a road trip across South America on a beat-up motorcycle, where they saw the poverty and injustice that would eventually make a revolutionary out of Ernesto. The film is based on Che's posthumous Diarios de Motocicleta (1993)and Granado's Con el Che por Sudamerica (1978). The books discuss several Indigenous cultures they encounted along the way--Mapuche, Aymara, Quechua, Yagua, and others--but the movie only shows, briefly, a couple of itinerant laborers fleeing Bolivia, and the Quechua people of Cusco. Somewhat superficial as an adaptation of the fascinating books, the film nevertheless makes a great Road Trip movie, full of adventure, humor, and pathos, and spectacular scenery, all of which should inspire people to learn more about Che Guevara and South America.

Sinopsis en español:
Trata del viaje realizado en 1952, inicialmente en motocicleta, a través de América del Sur por Ernesto Guevara y su amigo Alberto Granado. Durante el desarrollo de la aventura, Guevara se descubre a sí mismo transformado por sus observaciones de la vida de los empobrecidos campesinos indígenas. El camino presenta a Guevara y Granado una verdadera imagen de la identidad latinoamericana. A través de los personajes que encuentran en el camino, aprenden sobre las injusticias a las que los pobres se enfrentan y están expuestos a personas con las que nunca se habían encontrado en su ciudad natal. El viaje sirve para explorar la identidad de uno de los más memorables revolucionarios.


SECRET OF THE INCAS
Director:Jerry Hopper
Writer:Ranald MacDougall, Sydney Boehm
Cinematography:Lionel Lindon
Music:David Buttolph, Moises Vivanco
Year/length:1954. 94 minutes.
Setting:Cusco & Machu Picchu, 1950s
Language:English; some Spanish & Quechua
Indian Content:medium-low
Home Release:none
Rating: lousy ok

Charlton Heston plays Harry Steele, a tour guide and archaeological thief looking for a gold sunburst which disappeared at the time of the fall of the Inca empire and which, when found, will signal the return of the empire. But others are also looking for the sunburst--Steel's rival thief Morgan, a team of archaeologists, and of course the Quechua Indians. Secret of the Incas bears surprising similarities to the Indiana Jones movies, but lags way behind in suspense or action. Filmed on location in Machu Picchu, and filled with throngs of indigenous actors in traditional costumes. Secret of the Incas may be most famous for a performance by Peru's legendary singer Yma Sumac. This scene is actually poorly synced, and her operatic style seems grotesquely out of place against the rugged Andean landscape.

Sinopsis en español:
Harry Steele y el oportunista Ed Morgan llegan al Perú atraídos por la leyenda del oro de los incas. Según esa leyenda, el imperio de los incas fue destruido por los dioses cuando el fabuloso tesoro sagrado de oro y piedras preciosas fue robado del templo del Sol, hace ya varios siglos, y que se conserva en la tumba de Manco. Harry tiene un fragmento de un antiguo mapa de piedra que indica la situación de la tumba. Queriendo anticiparse a Ed Morgan, se apodera del avión particular del cónsul rumano y se marcha con Emma Antonescu a Machu-Picchu. Allí encuentra el tesoro, pero Morgan, que le estaba esperando, se lo arrebata. A partir de ese momento, se desarrolla una persecución en plena selva entre ambos hombres.





enlarge
DAUGHTER OF THE SUN GOD
[COCOBOLO]
Director/writer:Kenneth Hartford
Cinematography:Fred Houston
Music:Les Baxter
Year/length:1960. 75 minutes.
Setting:deserts and jungles
Language:English
Home Release:none

Kent, an American writer and explorer vacationing in Peru, is approached by Christine, whose uncle, an authority on pre-Columbian cultures, has disappeared. Christine wants Kent to help her find a stolen map of the legendary lost city of gold, where the Inka empire still thrives. Dr. Howard Knapp, an American archeologist, joins Kent's expedition as a guide. After surviving many perils in the Peruvian desert--snakes, crocodiles, and hostile natives--the group negotiates jungle quicksand and jaguar attacks. Dr. Knapp, revealed to be responsible for stealing the map, separates from Kent and Christine. The couple make their way to the Inkan city and warn the natives, who overcome the doctor and his mountain bandits.

This U.S. production, filmed in Peru and Brazil, premiered in Peru in 1960 under the title Cocobolo but wasn't released in the U.S. until 1963. Hartford went by the pseudonym Kenneth Herts for this film. Starring William Holmes, Lisa Montell, Harry Knapp, and Juanita Llosa as the Sun Goddess. I have no idea where to get this film.


KUKULI
Directors: Luis Figueroa, Eulogio Nishiyama, and Cesar Villanueva
Writers:Hernan Velarde, Lucho Figueroa, Cesar Villanueva
Quechua dialogue:Hernan Velarde
Cinematography:Eulogio Nishiyama
Music: Armando Guevara Ochoa, Leopoldo La Rosa (conductor), Pueblo de Paucartambo
Year/length:1961. 67 minutes.
Setting:Paucartambo (town northeast of Cusco)
Language: dialogue in Quechua, narration in Spanish
Indian Content:high
Home Release:DVD (Peru)
Rating: lousy ok good very good

Kukuli, a young llama herder, leaves her grandparents in the countryside of Cusco to attend the Feast of Mamacha Carmen in the town of Paucartambo. On the way she meets Alaku, a mestizo who has lost his land. He seduces her, and they decide to enter into servinakuy (trial marriage). Continuing their journey to Paucartambo, they consult a brujo with a llama skeleton hung outside his house. Reading the coca leaves, the brujo notes Alaku's lack of a home and declares that death accompanies them. Fleeing in fear, the couple reach Paucartambo and participate in the festival. A priest asks Alaku to ring the bell at the top of the church tower. A man in a bear costume, blending in with the festivities, follows Alaku up the tower and throws him to the ground, killing him. The bear man then pursues Kukuli through the parade, captures her, and carries her off into the hills. The priest declares this calamity to be the fault of the townspeople's sins, and he orders them to kill the demon bear man in atonement. They attack the culprit with stones and farm tools, and when they remove his mask they find he is really a bear, the Ukuku of Andean myth who attacks young women. (For a more sympathetic view of this creature, see Ukuku below under Short Films).

Kukuli is a simple, beautiful film celebrating the culture of the Cusco region, showing many folkways--the festival, the trial marriage, the saywa (custom of placing a stone upon a pile while traveling), honoring the apus (mountain spirits), kissing the ground before entering a new town, and the saqra dance unique to Paucartambo. This was the first full-length film made by Cine Club Cusco, founded in 1955 by Luis Figueroa, Eulogio Nishiyama, Cesar Villanueva, and Victor and Manuel Chambi (sons of the great Cusco photographer Martin Chambi). Cine Club Cusco mostly made documentaries, and Kukuli shows that influence with its emphasis on folkways. Indeed, the scant plot seems constructed specifically to document and celebrate Quechua culture.

Sinopsis en español:
La pastora Kukuli, que vive en las alturas del Cusco, emprende un viaje para participar en la fiesta de la Mamacha Carmen. En el camino encuentra a Alaku, campesino con quién se une en Sevinacuy (matrimonio de prueba). En la ruta un brujo les predice la muerte. Al llegar a las fiestas Kukuli es raptada por el oso Ukuku, que mata a Alaku y finalmente la sacrifica. Al morir Kukuli se transforma en una llama Blanca y Alaku en una llama negra. Los habitantes del lugar matan al oso Ukuku, como modo de espiar sus pecados.

(enlarge)

Cast:
Kukuli - Judith Figueroa
Alaku - Victor Chambi
Machula (abuelo) - Felix Valeriano
Mamala (abuela) - Martina Mamani
Brujo - Simon Chambi
Ukuku - Lizardo Perez
Priest - Emilio Galli


  1970s
Kuntur Wachana

KUNTUR WACHANA
Donde nacen los cóndores
Director/writer:Federico García
Cinematography:Jorge Suarez, Pierre Maury
Music: Celso Garrido Lecca, Conjunto Tarpuy, Conjunto Korillacta
Year/length:1977. 90 minutes.
Setting:Urubamba Valley, 1958-1972
Language:Quechua, Spanish
Indian Content:high
Home Release:none
Rating: lousy ok good very good excellent

This film tells the history of campesino struggles in Cusco in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1958 a wealthy hacienda in the Urubamba Valley near Cusco weilds absolute power. The hacendado's spiteful daughter accuses the aged pastor, Mariano Quispe (played by Aparicio Masías), of stealing sheep and he is thrown in prison. The other campesinos are angered by the injustice and form a union to prevent further mistreatment, naming Saturnino Huillca (played by himself) as their leader. The union gains some legal rights, but the hacienda continues to abuse the Indians, breaking contracts and denying them access to water. When Mariano Quispe returns to the hacienda they poison his chicha and he dies. The union is temporarily dissolved, but in 1968 a group of young farmers led by José Zúñiga Letona and Rubén Ascue begin the struggle anew as Agrarian Reform is carried out across all of Perú. Various haciendas, learning that the government will redistribute their land anyway, make false promises to their workers and attempt to turn the Indians and mestizos against each other. After much treachery and deceit, including the assassination of Zúñiga Letona, the land is legally handed over to the campesinos, who form the Cooperativa Huarán.

The people who act in this film are not professional actors; they are in most cases the same people who experienced these events in the 50s and 60s. Director Federico García was no doubt influenced by Bolivian director Jorge Sanjinés, who also employed a documentary approach with the participation of Indians who recreated the events they experienced. Sanjinés was exiled from Bolivia and made a film in Peru in 1973, just a few years before Kuntur Wachana. But while Sanjinés banished all traces of "folklore" and "colorismo" in his work to avoid romanticizing the Indians, Kuntur Wachana delights in folkloric elements, especially in the prophetic theme of the title, which predicts that the condors that fled from the arrival of Pizarro would return again and restore strength to the people. The soundtrack, a cantata popular or folk-operetta composed by Chilean Celso Garrido-Lecca, has become one of the classics of the Nueva Canción movement of South American music. The lyrics are reproduced here:
pacoweb.net/Cantatas/KunturWacha.htm

Sinopsis en español:
Saturnino Huillca, viejo chamán indígena, llega al Valle Sagrado de los Incas en el Cusco, con el propósito de organizar un sindicato y preparar a los campesinos para recuperar sus tierras. Contacta con Mariano Quispe, anciano pastor de ovejas, organizan la invasión y emprenden la lucha reinvindicativa. Quispe muere envenenado, se desata la represión y el sindicato es aniquilado. Años después jóvenes comuneros encabezados por José Zúñiga Letona y Rubén Ascue recomienzan la lucha que concluye, luego de escarmientos y persecuciones, en su conversión en cooperativa agraria. Muerto el nuevo líder en un confuso incidente, la cooperativa decide llevar su nombre.


EL CASO HUAYANAY
Testimonio de parte
Director/writer:Federico García
Cinematography:Pierre Maury
Music:Ricardo Eyzaguirre, Vientos del Pueblo, Raul Garcia Zarate (guitar)
Year/length:1981. 86 minutes.
Setting: Huayanay, a town in Huancavelica (central Sierra), 1970s
Language:Quechua, Spanish
Indian Content:high
Home Release:DVD (no English subtitles)
Rating: lousy ok good

Based on actual events that occurred in the early 1970s. Matias Escobar (Hugo Alvarez) is a mestizo overseer at the Hacienda Huayanay steals sheep and other animals from the campesinos. The campesinos go to Huancavelica to complain about him. The lieutentant governor, a quechuahablante, is sympathetic towards the campesinos and orders Escobar thrown in jail. However, the hacendado arranges to remove the lieutentant-governor from office and replace him with one of his cronies. Escobar is released from jail and vows revenge against Eustaquio, the community leader who testified against him. Returning to Huayanay, Escobar rapes a young shepherd and kills Escobar. The rest of the community votes to take justice into their own hands, invoking ancient Inca custom. They lynch Escobar and present his body to the guardia civil, claiming collective responsibility. The white authorities charge 216 campesinos for the murder of Escobar, but only 11 are aprehended, and the ensuing trial becomes national news. The 11 campesinos are eventually freed, but in the political vicissitudes of the seventies and the resentment created by the agrarian reform, the decision was overturned, and five men remained in jail as the film was completed. The story is narrated by Ciriano Palomino, one of the men who took part in the lynching, as he sits in prison. Many of the people who experienced the events play themselves in the film, a technique Federico Garcia also used in his earlier film Kuntur Wachana (see below). Great music and scenery.

Sinopsis en español:
Reconstrucción ficcionada del célebre "Caso Huayanay" que puso en evidencia la secular oposición existente entre el país oficial y el país real, en los pueblos andinos del Perú. Los comuneros de una apartada región de Huancavelica, en los Andes centrales, aplican sus propios códigos de justicia y ejecutan a un ladrón de ganado, autor de numerosos crímenes y abusos con los indios. Renuente a toda llamada de atención de los "waras" o autoridades comuneras, el bandido es condenado a muerte y ejecutado de acuerdo a las seculares costumbres de la comunidad. La justicia oficial se ensaña con los comuneros que asumen la responsabilidad colectiva de los hechos.



Laulico

LAULICO
Director/writer:Federico García
Cinematography:Pierre Maury
Music: Carlos Hayre, Ricardo Eyzaguirre, Talleres de la Cancion Popular, Escuela Nacional de Musica
Year/length:1979. 84 minutes.
Setting:Fuerabamba (town in Apurimac)
Language:Quechua; some Spanish
Indian Content:high
Home Release:none
Rating: lousy ok good very good

Legend tells that Fuerabamba suffered a drought when the Spanish conquerors captured the Wamani, the spirit of the land, and imprisoned him in their hacienda. Ever since then, the Fuerabambinos lost their role as farmers and became abigeos, or cattle thieves. For generations they tried to attack the hacienda and free the imprisoned spirit, but they were always driven back. Laulico's father led a failed attempt, and now Laulico, chief of the community (played by Monorato Ascue) leads another attack and succeds in taking the hacienda. But he doesn't find the Wamani, and instead he incurs the wrath of the white people, who crucify Girucha, Laulico's childhood friend. The community must then decide whether to continue to search for the Wamani, and whether or not to renew their attack on the hacienda. Laulico sports a great soundtrack of Andean music, and the actors are from the communities of Fuerabamba and neighboring villages. The film was dedicated to novelist José María Arguedas. It's hard to tell when this story takes place, so I am simply putting it here with some of Federico García's other films.

Sinopsis en español:
En Fuerabamba, según el mito, la tierra se secó desde que, en tiempos remotos, el Wamani de la comunidad fue capturado por los conquistadores ibéricos y hecho prisionero en la hacienda Pamparqui. Por esta razón, los fuerabambinos perdieron su condición de agricultores y se convirtieron en abigeos. Durante generaciones trataron de asaltar la hacienda para liberar al dios prisionero y recuperar su condición de agricultores, pero siempre fueron rechazados. Laulico, jefe de la cominidad, logra tomar la hacienda pero luego se desata sobre él y su pueblo una feroz represión.


JATUM AUKA:
El enemigo principal
Director: Jorge Sanjinés
Writers: Jorge Sanjinés, Oscar Zambrano
Cinematography:Héctor Ríos, Jorge Vignatti
Music:Camilo Cusi
Year/length:1973. 118 minutes.
Setting:unnamed Andean town, 1970s
Language:Spanish
Home Release:none

A terrorist group arrives at an Andean town to recruit volunteers, promising to free them from exploitation. They demonstrate their earnestness by executing an hacienda owner and his chief. This is one of the films Jorge Sanjines made while in exile. I have not seen this film. Sanjines' other films are listed under Bolivia.

Sinopsis en español:
Un grupo de guerrilleros llega a una comunidad indígena con la intención de reclutar voluntarios. Para demostrar que quieren liberarlos de la explotación, fusilan a un hacendado y a su capataz por sus crímenes y abusos. Sin embargo, cuando tienen que huir ante la proximidad del ejército, son pocos los que los siguen.



ALLPAKALLPA, LA FUERZA DE LA TIERRA
(The Strength of the Land)

Director:Bernardo Arias
Writers:Bernardo Arias, Hernán Velarde
Cinematography:Eulogio Nishiyama, Jorge Vignati
Music: Jaime Aparicio Delgado
Conjunto Imperial Los Campesinos
Raul Garcia (guitar)
Year/length:1974. 95 minutes.
Setting:Pichiuchiuchiu (fictional town in Apurimac, 1970s)
Language:Spanish, Quechua
Indian Content:very high
Home Release: Youtube
Rating: lousy ok good

In the fictional town of Pichiuchiuchiu a prodigal son returns. Nemesio Chupaca had moved to Lima to become a lawyer, and when he returns he finds that the abusive plantation owner Vaca de Castro has grown worse than ever, ruling over the town and killing and raping with impunity. Unfortunately Nemesio failed in his attempt to become a lawyer and cannot help his old friends. When Vaca de Castro commits the ultimate atrocity of destroying the school and murdering the agitating teacher Mataburros, the campesinos are finally aroused to rebel. Allpakallpa (the word means "the strength of the land") is a very strange movie due to the uncomfortable mix of slapstick comedy and sometimes heart-wrenching drama and realism. There is also a fair amount of costumbrismo, scenes which linger over the colorful customs, music and dance. The two cinematographers had also worked on Kukuli.)

Hernán Velarde, who wrote the novel (never published) and the screenplay, had envisioned a much more serious film. A Quechua-speaking journalist who had seen the atrocities committed by hacendados in his native Cusco. But when the popular comedian Tulio Loza offered much-needed financing for the film, he insisted on acting in the film, reprising his buffoonish character from the film Nemesio. The result is an almost schizophrenic movie that one critic has since compared to the Holocaust comedy Life is Beautiful. President Juan Velasco Alvarado censored the movie for its subversive elements, but today it is the comic half of the film that is more offensive, with its racist portrayals of the campesinos. To his credit, Tulio Zola has recently made the entire film available on Youtube for free:

youtube.com/watch?v=Mn8WH3eidd8

There are no English subtitles, only Spanish subtitles for the parts in Quechua. About a third of the film is spoken in Quechua.

Sinopsis en español:
En la primera parte del film podemos ver la caracterización de Nemesio Chupaca, el celebre personaje que elaboró e hizo famoso Tulio Loza a partir de los 60. Es la imagen del típico migrante que viene a Lima buscando superación y un mejor status y cae en una serie de problemas que hacen que su vida transcurra entre lo jocoso y lo cotidiano. Postula a la Universidad y no logra su ingreso, pero miente a sus coterráneos, incapaz en reconocer su fracaso. Una vez que decide retornar a su pueblo es recibido con gran alegría por los humildes campesinos que lo vieron crecer desde niño, considerando que él, con su conocimiento de las leyes, bien podría defenderlos de los abusos del “patrón” Vaca de Castro. Entonces se entera de los continuos abusos que el hacendado ejecutaba en contra de la población aborigen. Podemos ver en la película la ridiculización del pongo; los abusos sexuales en contra de las hijas de los campesinos (el derecho de pernada) o el “chaco humano” ejecutado contra algún comunero que hubiera osado enfrentar la autoridad de los hacendados, quienes creían que los indígenas de su territorio eran poco menos que cosas sobre las que podían disponer a su libre albedrío. Por ser un mentiroso y un cómico la gente del pueblo pierde las esperanzas en él, pero las circunstancias hacen que deba decidir enfrentar al gamonal y castigarlo por toda esta estela de abusos reiterados.


  FILMS NOT YET REVIEWED:
El Amauta (Federico Garcia, 1999. 4 hours, 20 min)
[Mini-series on the life of José Carlos Mariátegui (Moquegua, 1894 – Lima, 1930), the influential socialist.]
Amor en los andes (Hani Susumu, 1968) [Japanese film]
[A Japanese girl moves to a village in the Andes and learns about their customs. Also known as Bride of the Andes.]
Bajo el sol de Loreto (1936) (first color film made in Peru)
Camino de la venganza (a.k.a. La venganza del Indio) (Luis S. Ugarte Y Narciso Rada, 1922) [Silent movie; considered Peru's first full-length fiction film.]
Curucu, Beast of the Amazon (Curt Siodmak, 1955) [made in USA]
[Rock Dean and Dr. Andrea Romar travel up the Amazon River to find out why the plantation workers have left their work in panic, allegedly because of attacks from Curucu, a monster who is said to live up the river where no white man has ever been before.]
Green Hell (James Whale, 1940) [made in U.S.]
Hercules vs. the Sons of the Sun (Osvaldo Civirani, 1964)
Imperio del sol (Ramiro Diaz Tupa, 2003)
[Epica historica del Tahuantinsuyo, cuyo personaje principal el Inca Huaynarroque , formò la cultura llamada Kollasuyo, raza guerrera y fiera que opuso resistencia a la conquista española. Y que luego se convirtiò en la cuna de la cultura Inka.]
Pueblo viejo (Hans Matos Cámac, 2012)
[Con el formato de un western se logra un acercamiento al mundo rural inspirado en algunos relatos de Arguedas.]
Sangre de selva (Ricardo Villarán, 1937)
Terror in the Jungle (Tom DeSimone, 1968)
Tesoro de Atahualpa (Roberto Saá Silva, 1924) (made in Ecuador but set in Peru)
Todas las sangres (Michel Gómez, 1987) (Based on the novel by José María Arguedas)

  SHORT FILMS / CORTOMETRAJES:

LA AGONÍA DE RASU ÑITI
Director: Augusto Tamayo San Roman
Writers: Augusto Tamayo, Anina Sanchez, Alejandro Rossi
Cinematography: Cesar Perez
Editing: Manolo Cordero
1985. 32 minutes.
Setting: central highlands
Language: Spanish; songs in Quechua
Release: Youtube
Based on the 1962 story by José María Arguedas. An aged danzak' (dancer) decides that the time has come for him to die. He hears the wamani (mountain spirit) calling him. He puts on the costume of the scissor dancer, summons his family, his musicians and his dancing pupil, and dances until he dies. Available on Youtube.

Sinopsis en español:
Relata las últimas horas de la vida del indio Pedro Huancayre (Rasu-Ñiti), un célebre danzante de tijeras o dansaq, quien utiliza sus pocas fuerzas que le quedan para danzar mientras agoniza, todo lo cual lo hace acompañado de dos músicos (un violinista y un arpista), desplegando un ceremonial espectacular, que presencian su mujer y sus hijas, y su joven discípulo Atuq Sayku. Rasu-Ñiti muere en trance y lega a su discípulo el Wamani o espíritu de la montaña que se manifiesta en forma de cóndor, una deidad andina que hizo de Rasu-Ñiti un eximio bailarín, de acuerdo a la visión andina.


Danzak
Director: Gabriela Yepes
2008. 19 min.
Nina is a 10-year-old girl whose life dramatically changes when her father, a Master Scissor Dancer, asks her to fulfill her last wish. This is based loosely on the José María Arguedas short story, "La agonia de Rasu Ñiti" (see above), adding another episode and telling the tale from the daughter's point of view. Released as a bonus feature on the DVD of the Colombian film Los viajes del viento (Wind Journeys).


Leyenda de las Islas de Pachacamac
Director: Álvaro Villarán
1985. 15 min.
Narra la historia de la Diosa Cavillaca, pretendida por otros dioses, que compiten por su amor. El bromista Cuniraya será finalmente quien la conquiste. Al seguir manteniendo oculta su identidad, en la forma de un mendigo, la orgullosa Cavillaca, avergonzada por lo que supone una afrenta a su belleza, huye con su hijo hacia el mar. La Diosa y su hijo se convierten en las islas que están frente a Pachacamac en las costas de Lurín, al sur de Lima. Actuación con máscaras del grupo teatral Yuyachkani.


El sueño del pongo
Director: Santiago Álvarez
1970. 8 min. B&W.
Adaptation of the classic José María Arguedas story by a Cuban filmmaker. This is not exactly a movie but a collage of still photos shown while a narrator reads Arguedas' story. Available on Daily Motion:
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4u5tv_el-sueno-del-pongo-arguedas_shortfilms

[Un hombrecito indio entra a trabajar de Pongo (sirviente) y su patrón es dueño de una inmensa casona en Perú. El pongo sueña el castigo que recibirá el patrón, por las maldades que ha cometido, después de que ambos hayan muerto.]

  MAP OF INDIGENOUS GROUPS AND LANGUAGES IN PERU:


Send comments, questions, or recommendations to:
squirreltree@yahoo.com

Si tienes preguntas, comentarios, o sugerencias, escríbeme a:
squirreltree@yahoo.com

Home