Did Colonization Ever Go Away?
by eches1 on November 18, 2013 - 11:41pm
The motion picture Even the Rain (Icíar Bollaín, 2010) is a film about Spanish moviemakers filming what the great Christopher Columbus’ colonization was truly like. Their filmmaking experience took place in Cochabama, Bolivia, where several Bolivians found themselves in unexpected situations, both in the filming of Costa and Sebastian’s movie as well as in real life. To me, the purpose of the Spaniard’s film was to show how poorly natives were treated during the early days of colonization for the sole purpose of benefiting a more powerful nation and its conquistador. From Costa and Sebastian’s exploitation of actors to the struggles locals face with accessibility to water, I believe director Icíar Bollaín is trying to portray how present-day citizens of Bolivia are being mistreated just as natives were back in the days of Columbus.
To me, it was ironic that the point of Sebastian’s film was to portray the awful treatment natives endured during Columbus’ explorations when Bolivians were being abused right in front of the crew’s eyes and they did nothing about it. They even contributed to the maltreatment when Costa bragged about saving budget money by underpaying the actors. The film crew went into Bolivia knowing full well that they would be able to benefit from the beautiful environment for specific scenes, but also the cheap labor and indigenous look of people they were hoping could represent those who Christopher Columbus conquered. How, then, is this different than when the Spanish conquistador demanded the natives to work under unreasonable circumstances? Back in that time, they were forced to collect enough gold to please Columbus or else they would be subject to extreme punishment or death. Although it may not come across as so severe, droves of Bolivian actors auditioned to be in Sebastian’s film because they needed money. To in return be underpaid for their work was detrimental because the actors had less money to provide water to their families and survive with unreasonably high taxes.
Throughout Even the Rain, several Bolivians, such as rebel actor Daniel, protest their government’s attempt to privatize water. One of the government officials argued that the country had limited resources and that it’s difficult to maintain a good supply of resources without help from foreign countries. This is when Sebastian connected this issue back to his actors and Bolivian people by suggesting how unfair and unrealistic it was for people to be able to afford a 300% tax hike for clean water when they are only earning two dollars a day. (Bollaín, 2010). Sebastian kind of starts to realize throughout the filming process that there are more important things in life besides completing his movie. These realizations occur especially in times of protesting outbreaks, like when Bolivians are actually in danger and the very real idea of authoritative abuse is occurring beyond the camera lens. Before, the film crew was trying to make the women actresses partake in a scene where they pretend to drown their babies, but they would not do it. This was one of the ways that Bollaín showed how Bolivians would not put up with commands they considered to be inhumane or harmful to their own people. Sebastian’s film was about how natives were forced to do things they didn’t want to do and while he was creating his film, he was able to see that Bolivians were facing the same issue, even by him.
While I understand that the Columbus movie didn’t actually take place and that their movie was only a portrayal, I think their own film was meant to depict the imperfections people face in the real world. Bollaín depicted that a presence of higher authority in any society can negatively affect the lower man, whether it be Columbus’ inquisition or the Spaniard directors’ filmmaking. I also think it was significant that Bollaín decided the filmmaking crew should come from Spain, just as Christopher Columbus did. This showed that no matter how insignificant the abuse may be, mistreatment of people who are considered inferior is still occurring today and by many of the same nations who instigated this manipulation many years ago.
Bollaín, I. (Director). (2010). Even the Rain [DVD]. Spain: Vitagraph Films