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American Women's Club of Hamburg

The Michel reviews: Mythos Amazonas & 1981

Mythos Amazonas

Did you ever wonder how directors make these fantastic nature documentaries where you feel like you are standing right next to the animals?

Director Christian Baumeister gave an inside view of what he and his team went through in order to make a three-part documentary on the Amazon region for NDR, Arte and National Geographic. It looks like the pressure was on, since this film is to be aired on television next year here in Europe as well as in America. He was grateful to have such a hard working team and gave special thanks to the biologist who found untold stories which hadn’t been seen in any previous documentary. His greatest surprise was when they arrived in the Amazon where he expected to see lots of wildlife but instead they were overpowered by the vast green vegetation. He decided to make use of this green footage of the Amazon, first at a distance, then moving closer in and telling detailed stories of the area. He repeats this again and again so that the viewer never loses sense of how overwhelmingly large and complex this ecosystem really is. His team spent four years in the rainforest and came out with 400 hours of footage which has been condensed down into this three-part series.

It took time to really understand the Amazon since it not only contains two thirds of all animal species found around the world, but thousands of varieties of trees and plants which are being discovered everyday. Baumeister explained that they had to film several scenes in a terrarium because it would have been impossible to control the lighting and the insect life inside the jungle. He explained that when they did insect shots that they had to slice open the plant, insert a camera and then close it back up and wait for the show to begin. This film includes ants, spiders, frogs, panthers and my personal favorite, sloths. I was surprised to hear that one of these slow moving creatures actually bit one of Baumeister’s team. He said they were extremely lucky since only one other incident happened in the four years of filming. Unfortunately one of his colleagues contracted Malaria.

They also dive into the interaction of man inside this rainforest and film two of the tribes and show how they survive in this seemingly dangerous environment. They show how the natives make their medicine, how they hunt and try to explain their spiritual awareness of the rainforest. The third part, which we didn’t see, shows man’s destruction of this wonderful place and a grim look at the future if we don’t stop our abuse of the environment. So make sure you don’t miss this series on NDR next year. I know you will be just as fascinated by the Amazon as my son and I were. ()

1981
When Ricardo (Jean-Carl Boucher) is eleven his parents want to better themselves and buy a house, which they can ill afford. Ricardo’s father grew up in Italy during the war, emigrated to Canada and earns a living playing the accordion in the local mall. His mum works long, hard hours as a waitress.

Ricardo’s school friends are wealthy and Ricardo demands to have the same toys which they all have. Eventually his mum rows with her spoiled son and tells him how difficult it is for them to remain financially stable. They will have to sell the house and move to a smaller one. Ricardo and his friends bare their hearts to each other when out bike riding, and his family puts the house on the market.

There was nothing new in this movie, directed by Ricardo Trogi in his third feature film.  A man looking back on a year in his life as a child is a scenario often used in TV sitcoms. Everyday life is not always worthy of the big screen. ()

– The Michel Children's Filmfestival

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