Cannibal Holocaust – An Intriguing Film

One film that sets itself apart form the rest of the horror and scary movies is the Cannibal Holocaust. The film was produced in 1979 and the quality is too inferior to the latest movies produced by Hollywood. Nevertheless, the movie itself is very thought-provoking. It is not recommended for those who are looking for fun and entertainment. The film is clearly a disturbing one as it not only show the atrocities made by the indigenous men, but the modern men as well.

The Story

The movie centered on the plot of finding a team of lost journalists with a twist.  The team, headed by Alan Yates traveled to the Amazon Basin to make a documentary film on a certain stone-aged tribesmen known as the Yakima. The team never went back but went missing for many months. This prompted a certain anthropologist, Dr. Harold Monroe, to search for Yates and his team. In South America, Dr. Monroe was introduced to a certain captured Yakumo tribesman who became his guide. Accompanied by the guide and other men, they reached the place.

 Yakumos are known as extremely dangerous people. They kill people and strangers. They have no concept of the value of human life. To kill is as easy as counting one-two-three. They were treated unkindly but they were managed to find out that Yates’ team, had been there, and went to another place of another tribe named Yanomamo. The Yakumos feared the Yanomamo; that they don’t dare to visit the place. Along their way, Monroe and his men were able to save Yanomamo tribesmen from their enemies. This won the friendship of the Yanomamo and they were invited to a feast. Monroe then found totem of bones which belonged to Yates and his team.  Monroe traded his recorder for the film (by Yates) and flew back.

 The rest of the movie showed Monroe watching the actual film taken by Yates. The movie revealed Yates as demoniacal attitude and the atrocities they committed toward the tribes men. Yates, with his bolo, amputated his guide’s leg when the latter was bitten by a poisonous snake. He staged a fake massacre by rounding Yakumo tribe’s men into a hut and then burned them alive for the sake of documentation. The team thought that it was not getting the excitement and the scene which they anticipated. When they found a Yanomamo girl, the men took turns in raping the girl while filming it. Yates did not listen to his girlfriend’s protest.

Yates even went on recording the torture of his cameraman and other team mates. He hid in the bushes to capture the moment of hacking by the cannibals. Yates even witnessed and filmed the gang-rape of his girlfriend. Her body was cut into pieces. Finally, Yates was the last one tortured by the cannibals.

Dissecting the Film

The movie definitely is not a must-see one. Yet, it has a haunting effect which makes the viewer think: so, who’s the civilized anyway?

The movie portrayed the Yakumo and the Yanomamo tribe as cannibals as they eat human flesh. They feed on the bodies of captives and employ barbaric means in killing such as hacking using their stone-cut weapons, dismemberment, poison, and others. They even rape women.  These tribesmen were showcased the way the western world has thought of them: dark-skinned, scanty clothes, barbaric, stupid, funny, weird, gruesome, and the list goes on. The stereotyping was too obvious that these people were classified as of ancient times with no much knowledge.  It is a typical stereotyping that no wonder children today grow up fearing the indigenous people. What the film has forgotten to emphasize are the positive attributes if the tribes. Merely drawing on the negative side added to the ghoulish nature of the film.

Meanwhile, the journalists were represented as the superior ones with the technology. I would say that somehow, the film can be correlated to real events. There are some journalists who do act like Yates for the sake of scoop. In the real world, media men compete for the best human interest story of for the most wonderful and even disturbing angle.

After watching the film, I can only affirm that people like Yates and his team members do exist. These are the egocentric and ethnocentric beings who take pride in their beings. These are the men who thought they are above other people; who could lord it over the weak ones.

 Isn’t it ironic that the film beamed with a different definition of civilized?

The modern men took on the adventures seriously and enjoyed the brutalities of it all. In the course of event, they initiated the foul crimes. They defiled the tribesmen by killing and raping members of their kin.

The film present horrors but aren’t these all happening today? The so-called educated men exploit the weak. Apparently, they use their brains to manipulate others and laugh themselves out loud while watching the misery of his slaves.

The modern men became the uncivilized by listening to their inner demons. The modern men gave in to their evil instinct and committed crimes of much horrible than that of the tribes men.

After seeing the film, it automatically came to me that these highly respectable men were actually the uncivilized men. They lost their selves. Their minds were deranged out of ambition and greed for glory.

Yates lost the love; the feeling. He allowed his girlfriend and his men to die. In one way, the modern men become uncivilized by losing the love; by neglecting relationships; by subjecting other human beings to dust.

The uncivilized men become so because of selfish desire and lust for dominion.

On the other hand, the tribesmen acted based on their culture and native “articles of war”. They were not exposed to the modern world and the values upholding it. They are dubbed as ignorant and dumb because they do not have the intelligence, the knowledge and the technology which the modern men have. But who can blame them? The tribal people are bound by their culture and traditions. They do not have the opportunities like the city people do.

I believe that the tribesmen are civilized because they have their way of life; it is just that theirs is something totally different or worlds apart from what we are accustomed to. The fact that they have their own system and organization mean that they do have their own civilization.  Civilization is all about systems of living; of culture; of traditions; of perceived ethics (or sense of right and wrong); and of family life.

Today, however, civilization means the modern living; it is the fast-paced life. It may also refer to the advancement. It denotes humane way of killing.

The film shows that the aforementioned definition is beyond that. It is about a sense of community; tools and technology (no matter how crude) to survive; concept of war and justice; family living; procreation, and others.

The indigenous people have these criteria. They possess values far better than the most of the living men do.

To be civilized on the modern man’s view point is a good thing provided that the values are in tact in the midst of a greedy and hostile world. Likewise, as I have said, the indigenous people are themselves civilized, and it’s also a good thing as their unique kind of civilization sets them apart from other people or other race. The indigenous have their own notion of right and wrong; have their own way of surviving.

According to the film, the real savages are the western men who came as journalists packed with knowledge and technology to broadcast to the world their ego. They are the real savages. These men are very bright and yet they allow themselves to be drawn to barbaric stuff.

In the present term, the men who have much are appearing to be lesser civilized. True enough, they have powerful tools and technologies but their values are rotting. Who causes the suffering of the poor? Who inflicted wars? Aren’t they the ones who so much knowledge and power that they strive to control the rest of the world?

The Civilized and the Savages in History

Here, we are asked to remember our history and pick our lessons. The ‘civilized’ empires which ruled the world before hailed from the Europe.  Long before America rose to the world of prominence, European nations were at the helm of discovering the unknown world. In fact, Asia and Africa way back then were tagged as the lands of the savages. Europe sent ships to the lands inhabited by the ‘uncivilized’ men. When they saw the richness and the vast natural resources of these countries, they set out not only to make Christianity known but also to subdue the land and its inhabitants. They colonized these countries and ruled over.

 These ‘civilized’ European men built factories and exploited the resources of many countries. They established a global trade of sugar and other products. They saw the natives and used them as tools in harvesting economic profits.  They trampled on their rights and made them slaves. Still dissatisfied, they turned the ‘natives’ or the ‘savages’ into commodities. They established the slave trade. The colonizers acknowledge the natives as fellow humans but refused to treat them in the very sense of the word. Sadly, many historical records even show that these natives from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and others from the rest of the world were treated far no better than animals.

History proves that the colonizers way of subjugating is more barbaric than the considered savages. Can we now call the civilized man as the real savages masked in intelligence and regal clothes?