CHAC: THE RAIN GOD
(directed by Rolando Klein, 1975)
***** (out of 5)
> Highly admired for its authenticity and the beauty of its photography, this arthouse favorite has been out of print for a long time.
. It’s an ethnographic study of modern Mayan people struggling with a debilitating drought. Their Shaman is worthless. He drinks all their liquor until he passes out, and is full of excuses for his “spells” failure to produce rain. But the people know of a man who lives alone in the mountains- a “diviner” reputed to have the ability to bring rain. The tribal leader is against calling on him, fearing he is a “witch” who will bring unforeseen disaster to the tribe, but they see no other alternative, and go in search of this man who is thought to still have ancient knowledge that has been all but forgotten by the modern tribe. This man leads them on a trek into the unknown that divides the tribe into the faithful and the skeptical.
. CHAC is not a great film, but I’m giving it 5 stars because it is an important film- unique and otherworldly to today’s audiences. None of the actors are professional, which shows in nearly every scene. They are authentic Tzeltal villagers, speaking in their native tongue and telling a story that is unique to their culture. There is something very special about this, that professional, non-native actors could never approximate. It is beautifully shot, with lots of shimmering golds and yellows, making it often look like Rembrandt painting with light. Writer/director Renaldo Klein lived in Chiapas and Yucatan in southern Mexico for two years gestating this project. In his only film, Klein delivers something other than we are used to seeing, transporting us to a world most of us know very little about, in a truly singular film experience.
© Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.