Take the Air Too: the Ethical Dilemmas and Social Class Structure of Even the Rain

by avasi2 on November 18, 2013 - 11:11pm

The film Even in the Rain directed by Iciar Bollain (2010) takes place in Bolivia in the year 2000 during what is now infamously known as the Bolivian Water Wars. The film follows a director, Sebastian and his executive producer, Costa as they try to make a persuasive film depicting Columbus’ voyage to the Americas as the start of the obsession with gold, hunt for slaves, and violence against the Natives in the name of Christ. While the two are filming the movie, they are dragged into a revolution against the Bolivian government. The Bolivian government had recently privatized and sold the local water supply to a British and American multinational company. The two film makers are dragged into the mix of this unrest because one of their main actors, Daniel, is a radical protestor against the recent privatization of water. This film shows the classic struggle of David versus Goliath as Daniel leads the revolt against the constraints on the water by the Bolivian government. At one point, a citizen questions, “Are you going to take the air too?” This question shows the absurdity that is privatizing one of the basic elements of life and parallels Columbus’ seize of the gold during his voyages. The film shows many ethical dilemmas faced by Sebastian and Costa as well as social class distinctions between the people of Bolivia. The overall dilemma of privatizing the water, as well as payment of extras, and eventually rescuing Daniel’s daughter are the main ethical dilemmas in the film while the gap between the lower and higher class people is the main social class distinction in the film.

Although the movie is mainly about the water wars and the fight to end privatization of water, the film also demonstrates major ethical dilemmas that rise between Sebastian and Costa. The two film makers decided to make the movie in Bolivia for different reasons. Sebastian decided to shoot the film in Bolivia because of the beautiful and realistic scenery. Costa however, agreed to shoot the film there for the vast amount of cheap labor. This becomes a controversial issue throughout the movie as Sebastian sympathizes with the local Bolivians who are protesting and rioting, yet Costa’s low payroll contradicts any point that Sebastian tries to make for the people.

The ethical dilemma, as well as the roles of the film makers, switches towards the end of the movie as the protests and demonstrations begin to erupt into full scale riots that demolish sections of the city and leave many people injured, including Daniel’s very young daughter. This causes the film makers to undergo a fierce reality check. Sebastian becomes obsessed with finishing the film at any cost, whereas Costa, who was originally the “bad guy” of the two, decides that finding and helping Daniel’s daughter, to whom Costa has become attached to, is more important than finishing the movie. In order to find the little girl, Costa drives all through the near war-torn city, basically risking his life.

Aside from intense ethical dilemmas, the film also shows major class distinction. There are two major classes that are shown in Bolivia: the politically clad and rich and then the impoverished locals who now can’t even afford running water. The government officials argued that the major increase in the price of water needed to go up to help stabilize Bolivia’s poor economy. However, these people can’t imagine a world without water because they’ve never been put into that situation. This is a major problem with social class, not just in Bolivia in the film, but in the rest of the world as well. People can be starving in the streets or struggling to buy groceries for their children, but the high class elites in society ignore them because they can’t imagine themselves in those positions. This ignorance of the political class in Even the Rain is what really leads to the protests and riots and serves the purpose for the whole film.

Reference:

Gordon, J., Benito, P., Altmayer, E., Serrano, M. L., & Lustres, E. (Producers),

     & Bollain, I. (Director). (2010). Even the Rain [Motion picture]. Spain:

     Vitagraph Films.

 

Comments

I also watched the movie Even the Rain in the crossing borders film series and never really considered how the major class distinctions depicted in the movie related to the rest of the world. We often hear about corrupt governments around the world and how the high-powered government controls the lower classes, but I never really think of on what scale it could be occurring in our own country. Even in the United States, there is an issue of a very small percentage of the population who controls the nation’s wealth. We think that our taxes are too high, but meanwhile Bolivians have a 300% tax increase on their water. The scene in Even the Rain where the neighborhood women are protesting and say, “You’ve taken our land, now our water, what’s next are you going to take the air too?” actually reminds me a lot of the film Five Broken Cameras where people from a West Bank village are fighting to keep their land. Both of these films depict how people in authority are taking things that are important to the everyday basic needs and ways of life of poor people, or those who are different.
I think you did a really good job discovering some of the major social dilemmas in Bollían’s film and I agree with you that ignorance is one of the most dangerous characteristics a person of political power can have. If they continuously make decisions based off of what they think is best for them, but not the entire population, then countries in economic ruin can never really escape that status. I’m so used to seeing this issue from an outsider’s perspective, but your review made me consider how the social issues and class distinction found in the movie can actually find its way into our own nation.

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