Embrace of the Serpent (2015) Script

"It is not possible for me to know if the infinite jungle has started on me the process that has taken many others to complete and irremediable insanity.

In this case, I can only apologize and ask for your understanding, for the display I witnessed in those enchanted hours was such that I find it impossible to describe in words its beauty and splendor;

All I know is that, when I came back, I had become another man."

Theodor von Martius, Amazonia, 1909


Yukuna?

Tukano?

Wanano?

Kobeu? Go away.

Go away!

Are you Karamakate, the world mover?

What do you want?

I am Manduca, son of Rúibukuri, of the Maloka Komeilemong.

I am Bará of the river... I know the Barás.

You submitted to the whites without a fight.

What do you want?

This is Theodor von Martius, my friend and travel partner.

He is very sick.

All of the nearby shamans tried to heal him. No one could.

They all said you were the only one who could help us.

I'm not like you.

I don't help the whites.

He is a wise man, who has come to learn.

He'll die if you don't help him!

Where did you get this?

Let go of him!

Where did you get this? What?

The necklace!

It was a gift from a Cohiuano shaman.

Liar! The Cohiuano don't exist!

They do exist, I was with them a few years ago.

Liar!

Ayúmpari.

I'm not lying.

Some of them remain, by the edge of the Yari river.

They are few, but they are still there.

The Cohiuano don't exist anymore.

You killed them all.

I won't help you.


It's okay, Manduca. It's okay.

Let's go.

Only yakruna can save you.

If the Cohiuano still exist, then they'll have it.

If not, you will die.

This plant can cure me?

Do my people still exist?

The jungle is fragile, and if you attack her, she strikes back.

The only way she will allow us to travel is if we respect her.

We must not eat meat or fish until the rains begin and we ask for permission to the Owners of Animals.

We can't cut any tree from its root.

If a woman is found, no intercourse until the change of moon.

Do you accept?

Theo, you're in no condition to travel.

I can't die here.

Do you accept?

You better be telling the truth. This medicine only heals momentarily.

When it returns, it will come back stronger.

It's the truth.

I've been with them.


EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT


Tukano?

Andoke?

Karihona?

Muinane?

You can see me?

Many years ago, this man, Theodor von Martius,

was here and he wrote about the plant I'm looking for.

I want to know if his writings are true.

I devote my life to plants.

You devote your life to plants?

That's the most reasonable thing I've ever heard a white say.

My name is Evan.

My name was Karamakate.

I come downriver from the Maloka of the Wanano people.

I'm looking for a plant.

Yakruna.

Which plant is that?

I know very little of it. I don't even know if it exists.

I want to learn about it.

Von Martius described it as a sacred plant that can heal diseases.

That grows on the rubber and raises its level of purity.

Is that why you want it?

Is that mambe?

Do you like our coca?

Do you want to take yakruna too?

I can give you a lot of money if you help me.

It's a lot of money.

Ants like money.

I don't. It tastes bad.

I've never dreamt.

Neither awake nor sleeping.

Not even caapi has had any effect on me.

The shamans from the Barás, Tukano and Siriano villages said only yakruna could help me.

I had a dream once of a white spirit.

He was sick, and the only way he could heal was by learning to dream.

But he couldn't.

Are your dreams worth a lot of money to you?

Do you know where to find yakruna?

Do you have more mambe?

I have some coca.


Is something wrong?

I forgot mambe existed.

Now I don't know how to make it.


Will you help me find yakruna?

You are not one.

You are two men.

I want to see yakruna. I'll go with you.

Do you know the way?

I don't remember.

You will take me.

Did you make all these?

What do they mean?

I don't know.

I can't remember.

These rocks used to talk to me.

They answered my questions.

The line is broken, my memories are gone.

Rocks, trees, animals, they all went silent.

Now they're just pictures on rocks.

Now I'm empty, I'm a chullachaqui.

This is similar to a drawing I saw of yakruna.

These are mountains.

A group of mountains.

It is the "Workshop of the Gods".

That's where yakruna grows.


How could I forget the gifts that the Gods gave to us?

I've even forgotten how to make the mambe.

What have I become?


We're too heavy.

We need to drop these boxes.

No, they're mine. I need them.

They'll drag us down.

Throw them away. They're useful.

You can look at them if you want.

That's not him. That's his chullachaqui.

What?

His chullachaqui. It looks just like him.

It's a picture.

It happened to us both. We turned into chullachaquis.

Did you meet him?

Do you know what he's like?

Is he an old man like me?

No, he died in this jungle.

He never came back from his trip.

How did he give you this?

Manduca, his travel partner, sent his diaries to Germany.

They were published there.


Manduca, do we have something to exchange for provisions?

Not a lot.


Are you okay?

Are you better?

The world mover?

This is Karamakate.

He agreed to help me.


I have to keep the prohibitions.

You need strength for the travel. You can eat it.

Can I?

How do we reach the Yari from here, then?

You must follow the Uraricoera star all the way to the Igara River.

Which star is that?

The one that is visible during the sunset, that way.

That way?

What is that?

It's a compass.

It always points to the Auakaruna star.

The needle is attracted by the Earth's magnetic field.

Why?

It will always point to the direction that the Earth's energy indicates.

Theo, sing your song!

No! Not again!

Manduca, I will not sing alone.

Sing with me!

Come.


Who are you?

How can you live alone in the jungle like this?


Manduca, do you have the compass?

Did you leave it in the maloka?

Did any of you take my compass?

Did any of you take my compass?

Give it back.

Give it back, you thieves!

Which one of you has it?

Leave him, Theo.

I can't leave a compass here, Manduca.

Tuschaua, tell them to give it back.

Please, Tuschaua, I need it.

I'm not going to exchange it.

Please give it back.

Please, Tuschaua, I need it.

Let's go.

I told you, I can't leave a compass here.

What?

You're nothing but a white.

Their orientation system is based on the winds and the position of the stars.

If they learn how to use a compass, that knowledge will be lost.

You cannot forbid them to learn.

Knowledge belongs to all men.

But you can't understand that, because you're nothing but a white.


Are you all right?


Leave all that.

They're just things.

No.

Why do you whites love your things so much?

They're not just things.

They are my only bond to my people in Germany, to my town, my wife, my children.

These boxes contain all the knowledge I've gathered in four years of travel.

I have to keep them, otherwise nobody will believe me.

Leaving them is leaving everything.

You're insane.

I know.


The rubber barons gave you those scars?

Yes, but I'm a free man now.

Is this the spot where the anaconda descended from the Milky Way, carrying our Karipulakena ancestors?


Damn rubber!


Do you understand what he's saying?

He's asking you to kill him.


You brought a gun?

You can't kill him!

Manduca, stop it!

What are you doing?

If I don't do it, they'll torture him to death.

Don't do this.

Don't do this!

Nobody deserves this hell.

Manduca, stop.


Karamakate.

Let's go.

I'm not going.

What's wrong?

Whites can't be trusted.

I have no reason to trust you either.

So, what do we do?

Is this your knowledge? Shotguns?

All your science only leads to this, violence, death.

You're wrong.

What else are you stealing? Coca?

Quina? Rubber?

That's why you want to steal yakruna? What else are you going to turn into death?

Don't talk to him like that. He's done more for our people than you.

And you? Look at your clothes. The same as the white men.

How could you let them culture you like this?

You think like the white men, you think nothing.

What side are you on? You're a caboclo.

I've never met anyone more loyal than Manduca.

He has never stopped defending his people. And you?

What have you done? Run away from the world, isolate yourself, like a madman.

I'm not stealing anything.

Look!

This is my knowledge.

You try to understand the world around you too.

You tell stories as well.

I send them to my wife, my people in Germany.

This is not death, this is life.

This is my song.

What is this?

It's a drawing I made.

Where did you see it?

In a dream.

A dream of caapi?

No. I've never been allowed to drink caapi.

This is the only dream I've ever had.

I ain't no caboclo.


If those rubber barons are men, I am a snake.

Is that a fire?

No. It's the Peruvians.

Come.

We must talk to Master Caapi.

He's the only one who can explain. What are you talking about?

The drawing you made. I dreamt it.

But that is not possible.

Of course it's possible.

Do you feel ready to drink?

Am I allowed?


Drink without fear.


It's already cleaned you inside.

You can drink again.

Drink.


You have to let go.

Watoíma.

I don't want to die.

I don't want to die.

Why wouldn't Master Caapi speak to me?

I don't understand. It's never happened before.

What did you see?

The Master took me to see the jaguar.

He told me that Watoíma transformed into a boa when it hit the ground.

It has a mandate.

What mandate?

To kill you.

Is this boa my disease?

No. It's something else.

If Master Caapi wouldn't talk to me, will yakruna still help me?

He spoke to you, but you couldn't listen. I'll have to show you.

Did the jaguar say something about me?

He asked me to protect you.

Last night, I finally found the opportunity to clear that vision I had back in Germany, lying next to you, all those years ago.

I finally had a chance to understand why I imagined a jaguar.

But no matter how hard I tried, how much I wanted to, I remained completely immune to the effect of caapi.

I feel that I have failed, my love.

I will be forced to accept that my colleagues were right when they criticized my journey.

I fear that I drifted away from you only to die thousands of miles from our home.

I can only hope that this disease is caused by the deep nostalgia of not having you beside me, and I beg you to forgive me for expressing these dark feelings.

But I also hope, my love,

that you will find in my honesty, another proof of my affection...

What is it? Can you understand me?

No, but you look like you're about to cry.

He's writing to his woman.

I enjoy expressing my affection to her.

To a woman? Before or after you cry?

You cannot understand.

And when you go back, are you going to express your affection to me too?


What are you doing?

I have to keep it.

But it's me.

It's not you. It's an image of you.

Like a chullachaqui?

A what?

A chullachaqui.

We all have one.

He looks just like you, but he's empty, hollow.

This is a memory. A moment that passed.

A chullachaqui has no memories.

It only drifts around in the world, empty, like a ghost, lost in time without time.

Are you going to show my chullachaqui to your people?

If you allow me.


The necklace is part of a Cohiuano. It cannot be exchanged.


You have to stick the paddle closer to the boat.

Listen, the river can tell you when to row.

Like this?

Why didn't you go back to your people before?

The Colombians razed everything. Nothing was left.

Didn't you ever wish to go back and see?

I was only a child.

How did you survive?


Another rubber plantation?

Not anymore.

It says here it's a Mission.

We should stop and get some supplies.

No. Let's keep going.

I know this place.

How are our supplies?

Not so good.

We're stopping.


Hello, little brother.

What's your name?

Manhekanalienípe.

That's not your name! We're not allowed to speak in pagan language.

My name is Jeremías.

Where is the priest?

Where is the priest?


Go away!

We don't have any rubber!

We don't want rubber.

What do you want?

My name is Theodor von Martius, I am an ethnographer of the University of Tübingen and the Museum of Stuttgart, Germany.

These are my travel mates, Manduca and Karamakate.

What do you want?

We are conducting an expedition and we are looking for supplies to trade.

Fruits, mandioca, whatever.

Not interested. Go away.

I have money. I can pay.

Go away!

Let's go.

What did he say?

Pagan languages are not permitted here.

"If thou shall judge me fair to the Lord, come to my house and stay in it."

Easy.

We can't keep going our way without food.

You're a capuchin, right?

Please, help us.

We will stick to your rules.

We will speak nothing but Spanish.

We are men of science.

Like St. Thomas Aquinas.

"Do not forget to show hospitality, for because of it...

...Many unknowingly hosted my angels."

I doubt you're angels.

But it is not for me to refuse hospitality in the house of God.

Be welcome to the Mission of San Antonio de Padua in Vaupés.


It's forbidden to eat fish before the rains come.

How long have you been here?

I came after the massacre of the Peruvians.

It will be ten years soon.

Have you been alone all this time?

No.

Brother Marcelino and the elders went looking for new disciples two years ago and they haven't returned.

Didn't you see them downriver?

Do you only steal boys?

Our mission is sacred.

We must save the souls of the orphans of the rubber war, and keep them away from cannibalism and ignorance.

IN RECOGNITION OF THE COURAGE OF THE COLOMBIAN RUBBER PIONEERS WHO BROUGHT CIVILIZATION TO THE LAND OF CANNIBAL SAVAGES AND SHOWED THEM THE PATH OF GOD AND HIS HOLY CHURCH.

RAFAEL REYES PRESIDENT OF COLOMBIA, AUGUST 1907

Hand me a pot.

I know what it's like in here.

Whites are crazy.

Come.

Come. Don't be afraid.

Look. This is chiricaspi.

A gift that our Karipulakena ancestors received from the gods.

We received the sun's semen when Yeba, the sun's daughter, scratched his penis and ground the semen to dust.

We must do the same with this plant before boiling it.

Help me.

This is the strongest defense we have against any disease.

It will help you endure.

Priests picked me up too, when the rubber barons killed my people.

They didn't surrender to them,

they fought.

That's what you have to do.

Don't believe their crazy tales about eating the body of their gods.

They give you food, but they don't respect the prohibitions.

One day they will finish all the food in the jungle.

You are still small, so the jungle will forgive you.

Master Caapi will guide you.

Every plant, every tree, every flower is full of wisdom.

Never forget who you are or where you came from.

Don't let our song fade away.


Don't touch me!

You brought the devil to the community!

You pervert the innocents!


We have to go.

We must take them. We can't.

The others will kill them.

We can't feed them.

Run.

Run.


Which way?

I don't know. You're the guide.


You could help me.

You won't find anything in there.


Are you interested in rubber?

I've never seen a strain like this.

Rubber means death.

But it's what you're looking for, right?

You are two men.

What are you talking about?

Why do you insist on coming with me if you're not going to help me?

I've... remembered.

What did you remember?

Did you remember where to find yakruna?

I remembered something. I don't know what it means.

Maybe I'm not a chullachaqui anymore.

Which way?

Right.


We're finding what you're looking for.

We have to go back!

We can't.

They're already here.

I've been here before.


The Messiah is not taking visitors.

We don't want to visit him.

We just wish to go on our way.

That is not possible.

The Eden of our community depends on its secret.

We won't tell anyone.

Show me that.


Is this a gift?

Are you the wise men of the East?

But there's only two of you... Balthazar... and Melchior...

Where is Caspar?

He... lost his way.


He was invited to suicide for causing with his betrayal the sickness that saddens our Eden.

I'm not doing miracles today!


So you're the Wise Men of the East?

We are scientists, looking for sacred plants.

Sacred plants?

The only thing sacred in this jungle is me!


Cure her.

You have to take her to a hospital.

This girl has leishmaniasis. You won't be able to cure her.


The Messiah is in a bad mood today.

But you have to understand, his wife is sick. I would be upset too.

I hope he can cure her.

I wouldn't want for you to be invited to suicide.


This is madness.

Don't you care?

I do. Something went wrong.

They are now the worst of both worlds.


Grátias agens benedíxit.

Accípite et bíbite ex eo omnes:

Hic est enim calix Mei sánguinis sed aetérni.

Quiet!

Quiet!

Oh, Great Wise Men of the East who have found the holy path to Bethlehem.

Bless our drink!


He cured my wife, now he will cure us all!

Let us celebrate this day, brothers!


Drink!

Drink!

I am not worthy of drinking from the same cup as the son of God.

The son of God.

The son of God, I am the Messiah and Redeemer of the Indians, Manducate ex hoc omnes! Selvus Rex!

The son of God, Agnus Dei!

Eat! Eat!

Eat me!

Everyone, eat me!

Let us eat the body of the Lord!


There's too much weight.

What the hell are you doing?

Stop bothering me!

What's your problem with these boxes?

Your things will only lead you to madness and death.

What are you talking about? You poisoned them!

I didn't poison them I just gave them something to think better.

They are Makús. They were not born of the anaconda.

They are less than human.

You sound like one of those rubber barons.

You're just like them. And you're lying to me.

You remember everything.

Don't. Please, stay.

I still feel like a chullachaqui.

But I'm starting to remember.

My mission was to give this knowledge to my people.

But the rubber barons and the Colombians came.

And I was left alone.

I need to remember.

I need to continue the song of the Cohiuano.

Are you going to show me the way?

I don't know it. You have to find it for yourself.

Throw away your luggage.


There. Happy?

Show me that box.

I'm not going to let you throw it away.

Then show it to me.

What is it?


This sound calms me.

It takes me back to my father's house in Boston, to my ancestors.


To become a warrior, every Cohiuano man must leave everything behind and go into the jungle, guided only by his dreams.

In that journey, he has to discover, in solitude and silence, who he really is.

He has to become a vagabond of dreams.

Some get lost and never come back.

But those that do,

are ready to face whatever may come.

Where are they?

Where are the chants that mothers used to sing to their babies?

Where are the stories of the elders, the whispers of love, the chronicles of battle?

Where have they gone?

You dreamed.

Tell me what you dreamed.

I didn't.

You're lying. You saw the eyes of the jaguar.

I said I didn't dream!

You're afraid.

But you must listen.

I'm not afraid to dream.

I'm afraid to die in this hellhole.

You're messing with my head with your dreams and your prohibitions.


Stop. You can't fish. There's no permission.

Permission from whom?

Yours?

The Owner of the Fishes?

I'm sick because of respecting your ridiculous prohibitions!

Easy, Theo, you're delirious.

Let me go!

You want to kill me too?

Drop the arrow.

This river is full of fish!

We cannot possibly end them!


How can you help him?

Have you forgotten what they did to you?

It wasn't him.

He paid off my debt in the plantation.

Then you became his slave.

I ain't nobody's slave.

I'm with him because we need him. He can teach the whites.

How can he learn if he doesn't respect the jungle?

He's afraid. But he can learn.

He's a hero to his people. They all admire him and listen to his stories.

If we can't get the whites to learn, it will be the end of us.

The end of everything.

Kariauatinga, are you all right?

They're like ants.

They'll eat anything, and they die fat.

You have no discipline!

You'll devour everything!

How is he?

Better.

Give him the Sun's semen.

You have to help him! You can't keep this resentment!

His body's dirty again. It would be like giving him poison.

We have to arrive with my people soon.

We have to talk to yakruna. Ask it to forgive him.

We are so close.

You'll feel better tomorrow. Eat.


It's here.

To the left.


Freeze!

Colombian?

Stop! Freeze!

Are you Colombians?

I don't know.

Get out of here!


Sirgú is here.

Have a drink of yakruna. We're toasting to the end of the world!

How can you allow this?

Why?


Yakruna must not be cultivated...

I misunderstood the signs. They were clear.

You're the one with the mandate!

You are the snake! Calm down!

Give it back to me!

You're not worthy of this!

You bring hell and death to earth!

The Colombians are coming!

This is yakruna!

The greatest knowledge of what my people once were!

I won't let you take it away.

Never!

The Colombians are coming!


What story is it telling?

How God created the world.

This is the way you seek. Listen to it.

It's beautiful, but it is only a story.

It's not a story.

It's a dream. You must follow it.

I am a man of science. Of real, palpable facts.

I can't be guided by dreams that I don't have.

You do follow them.

How many edges does this river have?

Two.

How do you know that?

There's one, and there's another.

One plus one equals two.

How can you know that?

Because! One plus one equals two.

Well, you're wrong. This river has three, five, a thousand edges.

A child can understand that easily, but not you. The river's the anaconda's son.

We learn that in our dreams, but it's the real truth, more real than what you call reality.


What do you see?

The world is like this, huge.

But you choose to see just this.

The world speaks. I can only listen.

Hear the song of your ancestors.

This is the way you're looking for.

Listen for real.

Not only with your ears.

Can I have some?

You're not having anything until you decide to listen.

Can I have some caapi?

Caapi won't help you if you don't want to believe.

You can help me.

This is all I can do.


Which way?

How do you know?

I know...

I believe...


Is that the Workshop of the Gods?

This is where we had to come.


Look!

It is ready.

What are you doing?

Don't damage it. We have to store it.

No.

We have to make it into caapi.

This is the last yakruna plant in the world.

You have to become one with it.

How do you know that?

I destroyed all the others.

It is our last hope, my gift to you.

I didn't come here for this.

Yes, you did.

No.

There's a war out there.

My people need rubber. High-purity rubber.

I have to take it with me.

Did you lie to me again?

You want to make weapons with yakruna? You want to turn it into death?

Give it to me.


Do it. Do it!

I don't care.

It is my duty to die, but yakruna dies with me.

You are chullachaqui too, and you will be one forever.


Take off your shirt.

Let me see your back.

This is the Medora caapi.

The most powerful of all.

It existed before creation, before the snake descended.

It will take you to see her.

She is enormous, fearsome. But you must not fear it.

You must let her embrace you.

Her embrace will take you to ancient places,

where life doesn't exist, not even its embryo.

Drink.

I... tried to kill you.

I don't deserve this.

I killed you too,

before, in time without time, yesterday, 40 years, maybe 100, or a million years ago.

But you came back.

I wasn't meant to teach my people. I was meant to teach you.


Give them more than what they asked for.

Give them a song.

Tell them everything you see... Everything you feel.

Come back a whole man.

You are Cohiuano.


Karamakate!


This film is inspired by the travel diaries of...

These diaries are the only known accounts of many Amazonian cultures.

This film is dedicated to all the