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.

 

 

APA format:

 

Bollaín, I. (Director). (2010). Even the Rain [DVD]. Spain: Vitagraph Films

Comments

Scrolling through the articles, your title caught my eye. As I started reading, I loved how you made a connection with how the conquistadors were treating the natives and then how the natives were being treated by the government. I watched "Even the Rain" and I wrote my blog film review on it and not once did I realize that connection between the treatments and I really like your way of thinking. You have a very interesting and different view that I have never thought of before. I also really liked how you said Sebastian and the film crew were taking advantage of the beautiful scenery but also the cheap labor. It was a very good point. Over all, I really liked your view on the film and how you made unique connections between both films and every day life.

This sounds like an extremely interesting film, the way you have brought this issue or idea was inserting. I liked how you contrasted the past and current events in your work. As you title states colonization never truly went away, even today a good example of colonization is China and Tibet, where China has taken over Tibet and the Tibetans are denied independence and Chinese people are slowly starting to live in the cities. Over all I believe that you did a good job with reporting the article and brought interesting ideas such as resource scarcity and the impact of colonialism on a long term.

I also did Even the Rain and I too thought it was a great movie. I found that you wrote a lot about Sebastian and you said that eventually he realized that the movie is not the most important thing. I have to disagree. I think at times he was scared but even at the end of the movie he still wanted to stay in the country and risk his and his actors’ lives, to finish his movie. I don’t think he every truly realized that his film is not the most important thing. Costa on the other hand did realize this and that is why he helped save Daniel’s daughter. Overall, I liked your post, especially your comment on Sebastian’s irony.

When I saw Even the Rain at the Crossing Borders Film series it really stuck out to me. I blogged about the film as well. I think that it is so terrible and heartbreaking to know that there are people out there who have no access to the simplest things that many take for granted. Seeing the movie made me realize how fortunate I am to be living in the United States with the freedoms that I have. I agree with your post in that at the beginning of the film the Spanish actors regard the Bolivian people as inferior just because they were different and not as fortunate. As the film progressed some of the Spanish actors started to sympathize with the Bolivians and start to understand their hardship better. This is portrayed when Sebastian and Anton both confront the governor that they think the tax increase on the Bolivians' water supply s wrong. Anton even has to be escorted out, but my favorite transformation is Costa's. Costa starts off as a low budget director looking to exploit the Bolivians' labor. But at the end of the film his heart warms to the Bolivians when he risks his own life to save Daniel's daughter. Daniel repays Costa's courageous act by giving him a tube of rainwater, something that is do precious to the Bolivian people. This film really opened my eyes to the hardships that people in other countries face and that it is important to not take anything for granted because we have so much to be thankful for.

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