Saturday, August 29, 2009

Keep the River on Your Right: A Modern Cannibal Tale (2000)

Tobias Schneebaum is a typical jewish homosexual painter. And this is the true story about he got lost in the Amazonas and became a cannibal. I saw this documentary on television quite a few years ago and it never left me. I bought the dvds and I found it that it was even better than I expected. A slightly bizarre, funny and emotional story about a man who travels back to the places that sealed his destiny and at the same time tells the story about his life. 

At the time of the shooting of this movie Tobias was in his late seventies, suffering from Parkinsons and have a good life in New York with a fifty year younger boyfriend. He survives and earn money on holding lectures on luxery cruises around Indonesia, telling rich, fat americans about his life in the jungle. He kinda enjoys it, but it's a doubled-edged sword. Because everytime a tourist - or even himself - visits one of the tribes, something is destroyed in their culture. 

We follow him to the Asmat-people in New Guinea, where he spend many years researching their art. By chance he run into his old lover (in the Astmat-culture almost every man has a male lover) and it's almost love again. The trip goes on to Peru where he finally meets the people that made him a cannibal fifty years earlier...

It's an amazing documentary! Tobias was quite a character, a funny and open-minded man who was terrified of mouses (as his old friend Norman Mailer recalls in the documentary) but had no hesitations to go out in the jungle alone for many days! He loves New York, Coney Island and hot dogs, but seems to be as relaxed there as with a primitive tribe somewhere on earth. Thru the movie there's a couple of old clips from tv-shows which is very interesting, but the coolest is the few clips from his super-8 movies taken in the jungles. It's like something that's been left over from Cannibal Holocaust. 

But it's really not about the natives themselves. Tobias Schneebaum has avoided to go back to Peru after the cannibal-incident, and just don't want to talk about it. It was a small part of his life, but still something he just can't cope with. Here he get's an opportunity to revisit his past and go full circle with his life-history. And yes, for those who have seen Welcome to the jungle, the Asmat is the same people that was rumored to have eaten Michael Rockefeller in 1961.

We have adventure, cool locations (shit, I really, really, really have to go to Machupicchu!) and a unique personality. For fans of good documentaries, this is the one to get!

(I'm sure I've mixed up the tribes here in the review, so I hope you can live with that...)


Patrick B said...

Cool! Sounds like something for me. I really love these types of doc's!

Ninja Dixon said...

It's really good! You would like it a lot!