SECRETS OF THE TRIBE

4.5 Stars
Year Released: 2010
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 94 minutes
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The Yanomami tribe lives in South America in the Amazon region between Venezuela and Brazil. From the mid-1960s onward they became of great interest to anthropologists because they lived isolated from modern society. This documentary details egregious cases of nauseating misconduct by, primarily, three anthropologists who went to study the Yanomami by living with them for long periods of time.

I’m going to do something unusual and not name the anthropologists. This is not in order to protect the innocent or guilty. These pompous people are so enamored with the smell of their egos that I don’t want to give them the satisfaction of seeing their names in print yet again. Their lusty self-centeredness rubs the wrong way in many directions. Yes folks, I’m not even trying to hide my contempt or bias. Maybe I’d feel better if they were behind bars.

Anthro#1 married a young teen girl, with whom it is suggested he was having relations when she was eleven or twelve, and brought her to America to live with his “tribe.” She couldn’t understand how he could live in a box and eventually left. Anthro#2 raped young boys repeatedly in many villages and essentially introduced organized prostitution. Anthro#3, who is interviewed at length, collaborated with the Atomic Energy Commission to introduce smallpox and other diseases so the long-terms effects radiation-like symptoms could be studied. About two hundred people died. A few respectable anthropologists and/or scientists produce ample evidence to substantiate these serious claims.

I haven’t felt so covered in repulsive slime after watching a documentary since “Capturing The Friedmans.” I wonder if many who watch this will view the entire anthropology field as a haven for degenerates.

Cinematically speaking, it’s pretty much talking heads and archival footage. Director José Padilha does an excellent job of presenting different sides in equal time. I was completely engaged the entire length. Padilha also does not editorialize and lets the subjects speak for themselves. Considering the charged issues, this shows commendable restraint. Academics bicker as to whose theories are right and accuse some of tinkering with data to support arguments. Resentments and hate smell like rotting gangrene. There were a few moments when confrontational relationships were unclear and who is talking about who. This is definitely for documentary fans that like intense issues present in almost unbelievable situations.



Posted on July 4, 2010 in Reviews by
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