To avoid going down a path of contentious claims, I have chosen two scenes from Embrace of The Serpent that illustrate moments of colonial and anti-colonial thought and offer my observations. Both scenes occur in the first half of the movie. The first bloke of dialogue is between Theo and an Indigenous community that he has spent a convivial night with. As he is leaving the next day, Theo realizes his compass is missing. The following interaction ensues:
**The dialogue in both scenes unfolds in Ocaina, Karamakate‘s mother tongue.
Theo: Did any of you take my compass? Did any of you steal my compass? Give it back.
His irritability is met with laughter.
Theo: “Give it back, you thieves! Which one of you has it?”
He aggressively grabs the face of an Indigenous community member.
Manduca: “Leave him, Theo.”
Theo: “I can’t leave a compass here, Manduca. Tuschaua, tell them to give it back.”
Tuschaua, the cacique (leader) figure, reveals that he has it. Not the adolescent Theo was accusing. A piece of pottery is offered in exchange.
Theo: “I’m not going to exchange it. Please give it back. Please Tuschaua, I need it.”
When Tuschaua refuses to give it to him, Theo lunges towards him, Manduca pulls him away.
Manduca: “Let’s go.”
Theo: “I told you, I can’t leave a compass here.”
He says, looking at Karamakate, who is staring back with fierce disapproval.
Karamakate: “you’re nothing but white.”
Theo: “Their orientation system is based on the winds and the positions of the stars. If they learn how to use a compass, that knowledge will be lost. “
Karamakate: “You cannot forbid them to learn. Knowledge belongs to all men. But you can’t understand that because you are nothing but a white.”