The Dead and the Others is a complex creation from directors Joao Salaviza and Renee Nader Messora, which can’t be easily categorised into the usual fiction and documentary boxes. Developed alongside the local Brazilian villagers who star in the film, it explores the rituals of day-to-day life in a society very different to ours. The Kraho people live a slow, peaceful, rural life, devoted to spirituality and ceremony above all.
Salaviza and Messora’s camera follows teen boy Ihjac (Henrique Ihjac Kraho) as he navigates a treacherous path between his indigenous people and the gradual allure of the big city. The narrative doesn’t aim for anything as cheap as enticing him with traditional vices like booze, sex or money, but draws a simpler contrast between the two worlds. Ihjac is alienated by the strict path in life set out for him in the village, for example his looming obligations in the wake of his father’s death, and there’s also a sense that the more mystical elements don’t quite cut the mustard for him anymore.
Salaviza and Messora stick to a static and formally composed style throughout, allowing wide framing and long takes to generate a verité feel to the action. This languorous mood becomes a bit too much to take in some of the village scenes. There’s a sense the directors are trying to capture the allure of this carefree community, but it results in some tedious moments that drag on far too long.
Whilst the use of non-professional actors lends the film authenticity, it also produces some weak performances. Although he grows into the role by the end, Ihjac is too much of a charisma vacuum for such a key part.
The Dead and the Others is a perceptive and beautifully shot coming-of-age story which is too indulgent to hit home.
CAST: Henrique Ihjãc Krahô, Raene Kôtô Krahô
DIRECTORS: Renée Nader Messora, João Salaviza
SYNOPSIS: Denying his duty and in order to escape a crucial process of becoming a shaman, Ihjãc runs away to the city. Far from his people and culture, he faces the reality of being an indigenous in contemporary Brazil.
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