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  When Two Worlds Collide Shame Of The Amazon
Year: 2016
Director: Heidi Brandenburg, Mathew Orzel
Stars: Various
Genre: DocumentaryBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Starting in 2006 in the Amazonian nation of Peru, the government led by President Alan Garcia decided to make the pattern of progress there more attractive to foreign investors, and with an official agreement with United States President George W. Bush, who Garcia travelled to Washington D.C. to meet, there were laws set in motion to exploit the natural resources of the land. One big problem with that was the people actually living there who had already been suffering the dubious conditions that the oil industry had visited upon them, with their local forest home choked with the black gunk that was the result of the drilling. Needless to say, they had some protests about this turn of events...

Directors Heidi Brandenburg and Mathew Orzel set out for Peru to make a sympathetic, some would say right on, documentary about the danger to the Amazon rainforest from those companies trying to destroy it for profit, but as time passed they found the political situation growing ever more grave until the unthinkable happened and at a location known as Devil's Curve the natives clashed with the police, leading to loss of life and many injuries on both sides. This was painted by the party in power as the acts of savages not only standing in the way of progress, but using brutal violence to do so, yet this film delved beneath those accusations to find the truth was far more complicated and disturbing.

As if it was not as disturbing enough, since there were actions very much in the wrong on both sides of what was looking to be the stirrings of a civil war. However, as you can imagine when the filmmakers started out supporting the Indians, if anything was clear in this mess it was that the authorities had given themselves carte blanche to behave as they wished towards what they regarded as second class citizens not worthy of serious consideration as to what the so-called progress would do to the environment they lived in, and the dazzle of the gold, of yellow or black variety, was proving far too attractive to them if it meant turning Peru into a country that was newly rich.

This question over whether the fall-out from drilling and mining was the result of progress or outright greed was not entirely resolved here, nor would you expect it to be, but they certainly offered food for thought which you had the impression was the goal all along. Though the directors never appear on camera and let their footage do the talking (with some captions to clarify a murky situation), you could tell they were extremely shocked by the way their little film about the damaged and vanishing rainforest became a record of a massacre and one of the most contentious passages in the whole of twenty-first century South American history, and even when they had to draw it to a close there were still many elements of the situation that were continuing.

With that in mind, knowing you would have to look up on the internet what had happened later and may not get all the answers you wanted, was it still worthwhile watching When Two Worlds Collide? The answer had to be yes despite these possible deficiencies, because it was telling us a lot about the heavy price the modern world took on the regions it based its profits and resources on, it sounded like a cliché after so many of these would-be crusading documentaries and articles, yet it had plenty of truth. If we had to accept that we needed to move into the future in the style with which we had become accustomed, in the developing world or the richer areas, then we had to accept the terrible toll that was taking on the places we drew them from. Garcia looked like a villain here and in contrast the leader of the activists a hero, though perhaps guilty of letting his new power go to his head, but Garcia was only following what the corporations had dictated; that he and his allies had not thought their activities through and sought to blame others when it all went tragically wrong was on many shoulders to blame. Yet as important as the film's message was, you wondered how many would pay attention: it did look niche, as unfair as that is.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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