What if fried monkey meat turns out to be delicious, and a tropical worm finds your forehead a great place to ripen. Instead of a lightning scar, Daniel Radcliffe has a “live” bump on his forehead, hallucinations, and a dull touch of reality. This is the film “Jungle”, directed by Greg McLean (The Darkness, Rogue) with the real protagonist, Yossi Ghinsberg, as the screenwriter. The story of tourists – travelers who find themselves in the very heart of Bolivia's wilderness – the wild jungle. Rain and snakes, swamps, deadly rapids, and not quite the fun, colourful trip that was promised at the beginning.
We have been all sheltered in houses and flats, as well as in our minds for the period of quarantine, and it may seem like a lifetime. And somewhere there is the real soul of the planet, where you can open up emotions and feelings and live to the fullest, because there is no place more free on this Earth than wilderness. So the heroes of the picture believed: Yossi Ghinsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), Swedish teacher Marcus (Joel Jackson), travel photographer Kevin (Alex Russell). And their guide Karl (Thomas Kretschmann) manages to turn dreams into reality, although for this reality they must pay dearly. Not quite a comfortable guided tour. However, no one signed up for comfort.
Since childhood, Yossi has dreamt of freedom. The beaten path – school, university, career, family, drove him into longing. A predictable life is one of the hero’s greatest nightmares. He throws his routine away and decides to travel the world. Going to Bolivia, he secretly dreams of finding ancient tribes – the origins of the jungle, the sacred souls of the area. In the base camp, he meets a school teacher from Sweden, Marcus. Together they go in search of tribal principles. Here, Marcus meets his long-time friend, the famous photographer, Kevin. In the Bolivian city of La Paz, they meet Karl, an experienced adventurer.
He invites them to go to the heart of the jungle, in search of the original Indian tribes. Initially, Marcus and Kevin take the safe approach and refuse. Yossi manages to persuade them to go together. And Carl has been manipulative, appealing to the guys’ particular desires: for Kevin, promises of beautiful scenery, which then could easily be photographed and the photographs sold to a famous publishing house. Marcus remains in the minority but agrees to go along with everyone. It seems that all will find what they are looking for; but the jungle, like any natural basin, whether the depths of the ocean or forests and mountains, does not tolerate intruders. Instead, it dictates its conditions, and risks, and the chances of survival. A person only needs to adapt and play by the rules. And there is no more powerful force than nature.
Story of a Tireless Adventurer and Traveller
Yossi Ghinsberg was born in Tel Aviv, into a family of orthodox Jews. Instead of following the usual path, pursuing school and conventional work – he began to rebel against his background and live on random, temporary jobs. South America, the city of La Paz. Yossi Ginsberg comes under the influence of Karl, who pushes him into the unexplored Bolivian jungle. Of course – to make contact with a completely unrecognized tribe; but in practice, as Karl has heard, something glittering may be found there. The story does not turn out as well as its participants imagined. There are scenes of terrifying struggles in the impenetrable Bolivian jungle, where a person is left alone with implacable nature.
In principle, the film’s director, Greg McLean, loves experimenting with the human mind, placing characters in extreme situations, preferably at the mercy of nature. Remember “Wolf Creek”, about a mystical Australian crater, or the house of mysticism in “The Darkness”, or the film about the hostages of the same name, “The Belko Experiment”. At the same time, despite all the stench and horror of the situations in which the characters find themselves, with McLean, they rarely begin to demonstrate heroic qualities and somehow turn too abruptly from unpleasant guys into fearless supermen, as happens in “The Jungle”. It would be difficult to imagine Daniel Radcliffe in the role of a jungle hero who pulls a worm out of his forehead, fights a giant snake, and a cheetah, and almost drowns in a swamp.
The World is the Same
However, the plot draws a line between the thirst for adventure and reality, and we see that all return to their inner convictions. Running away from his memories, Yossi discovers the truth: the world around him is the same, in Alaska or Tel Aviv – you are surrounded by similar people. The second part of the film shows the result of loneliness. The desire to survive emerges from the depths of the subconscious, fears, memories, meetings, people and all this appears – in the heart of the Bolivian jungle.
The line between reality and fiction is already being erased, a sense of self is lost. Thirst, hunger, lack of sleep, and constant stress make us leave the framework of customary thoughts, not to mention the comfort zone. Although the conscious is difficult to reason about as there is no familiar social framework. There is a very fine line when you are left alone in a remote jungle, without the communication or social realities you would have in familiar life. Perhaps the appearance of hallucinations is a protective mechanism for the psyche when it is necessary to create someone nearby.
The film tells about the battle of man for his own life, discovering an amazing ability to take risks, and then to escape. We subconsciously understand the value of life, are born with a heightened sense of our salvation. Although we constantly take risks, we endanger ourselves to be safe later. Perhaps the value is known by comparison. But the paradox is that finding an insane amount of adventure, conquering peaks, diving into the depths to search for the best truths, we fall into a trap. All the best, innermost and bright within us. And adventure should not become a priority, but only the key to understanding oneself.
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