9 comments on “Even the Rain

  1. One thought-provoking moment in Even the Rain that I brought up in class and that another classmate elaborated on came when Sebastian tried to create a scene where the indigenous women drown their babies in a body of water; the idea that water, seen as something that gives life, can take away a life.
    The negative perception of water has escalated and become quite widespread today where, as stated in the Losing Water reading, “…water [is] seen, for the first time, as a potential threat to human health” (30). It is no surprise then, as we already know, that water wars such as the one demonstrated in the film are becoming more prevalent in this century.

    Although I was always aware of the two aspects of water, I never quite thought of this dual characteristic it has in depth until friday’s discussion. The scene also demonstrates how, although it brings the indigenous people together, separates them from the outsiders when the making of Columbus film is, in one way or another, supposed to form good relations between them all. This is how water, specifically water wars, is changing the relations between people today. Despite globalization, which is some aspects is supposed to bring the world together, communities within countries grow further apart because of water privatization, pollution, etc.

  2. I agree with what Dora said in that water has the dual nature of giving and taking life; that it can be perceived in both a negative and positive light. Water is a resource that is essential for life, agriculture, and manufacturing but it can also be used as a weapon. It was represented in the movie in both contexts – the vial of Bolivian water that was given to the filmmakers by David at the movie’s close as life, and as a weapon when in the shooting of the documentary the women were acting a forced drowning.

    I think however that the water can be more powerful than a symbol, a tool, or weapon. The central conflict in the movie was incited by water and I think that therein lies it’s real power both positive and negative. The power to incite people to violence and conflict over the water resources or to unite them and bring them together in conservation and sustainable use. Water conflicts can be deadly and destructive but the proper use and management of water as a resource can bring together communities and sustain their economies and livelihoods.

  3. It strikes me just how much we take for granted here everyday of our lives. We have a basically endless supply of fresh drinking water out of the tap, and while that water is perfectly potable and available instantly, some still feel the need to go buy bottled water from the store. This makes no sense, and is a sharp contrast to these places where water is a nearly priceless commodity with people sometimes traveling miles just to get water of a lower quality than that coming out of our bathroom sinks. The disparity between these two settings truly blows me away.

  4. One of the elements of the movie that I found most interesting were the parallels it created between the two time periods and how these were used to illustrate the conflict between ideals and actions. Two sets of scenes in particular stood out to me.

    The first is the speeches given by actor Juan in the role of Antonio de Montesinos in the Church and Daniel at the rally. In the church scene Juan/Montesinos gives and impassioned speech about treating the Indians fairly, as people with souls, not as slaves. The actor is very into his recitation, earlier he and Alberto (who plays Bartolome de las Casas) discussed how much they loved their roles and admired the men they are playing. As Juan/Montesinos makes his speech, “Look into the Indians’ eyes? Are they not men? Do they not have rational souls?” the director, Sebastian, mouths along the worlds, “Are you not obliged to love them as yourselves?” This line has obviously struck a cord with him. It is the reason he is making the movie (this is suggested by a later scene between Sebastian and Costas). As all this is happening several local men who are working on the movie look on (with a river framed behind them). You can tell that the speech strikes a cord with them. They are keenly aware of the parallels between their own situation with the water and the oppression suffered by the Indians during the post-colonial period. However, the actors and director are oblivious. At the end of the scene Sebastian congratulates Juan and there is great admiration in Sebastian’s voice as he discusses Montesinos and how, “he was the first voice of conscience against an empire.” Yet in the very next scene, where Daniel is making a speech about being oppressed and taken advantage of for commercial gain by outsiders the reaction of the film crew is that he needs to be stopped so that their movie is okay. Maria wants to make a documentary but Costa says it has nothing to do with him and later works hard to try and get Daniel to stop (especially at the insistence of Sebastian) and even bribes him.

    The second set is when Alberto/Bartolome witnesses Daniel/Atuey burning in the film and when Alberto and Juan want to leave because the water wars are getting violent and roads are being blocked off. Earlier both (the characters in the film within the film and the actors) expressed compassion for the local populations but when it came down to sacrificing their own well being in attempt to help or remaining silent and escaping they chose not to endanger themselves. From what I understand the real Bartolome continued to fight but in the scene depicted he only looks on in horror as Atuey burns. In the modern plot line some do chose to help. For example, Costas goes into the heart of the “war zone” to find Belen, Daniel’s daughter, and Anton offers water to prisoners, both chose action, they chose to help. And yet, as a viewer it is hard to judge those who don’t help too harshly. What would you do in such a situation? It is impossible to know until you face it. You don’t know the gap between your actions and your ideals until you are faced with a situation like this.

    I found it interesting that when Costas finally decides to act he says it is because if anything happens to “that child” (Belen) he will never forgive himself. It is when it becomes truly personal (and involves a child) that he takes action. I also found it interesting that Sebastian justifies his own actions by saying that, “this confrontation is going to end, and it’ll be forgotten. But our film is going to last forever.” Thus he is justifying not taking action in a case of oppression in order to immortalize a message against oppression. Is that okay?

  5. To respond to the comment above I think this is such a key point. To see the water conflict as an outsider is an interesting perspective. We don’t realize what we have, and the fact that people are becoming ill and dying from lack of water sources and/or clean water sources. This is where I think the movie, as a popular culture commentary does a great job of making the water conflict accessible to those of us who have never and might never experience a conflict like this. By setting up the parallel between the colonization of the indigenous Bolivians and the government suppression of the indigenous decedents we are able to understand and sympathize greater with the perils of the water debate. The movie not only allows us to see this struggle on these two levels, but we are also guided emotionally through the conflict by the film crew as they feel passionate, confused, or indifferent towards the subject of their movie, just as the general public in the present time of the film has this range of emotion with regard to the water of Cochabamba.

    On another note an additional part of the film I thought was interesting was the way the film portrayed the government’s take on the conflict and with that the propaganda that came out of it. The scene in the mayor?’s office where he addresses the situation as a small conflict, a skirmish which will be squashed, showing the government’s lack of interest in truly representing its people and their needs. Furthermore, while the cast is watching news footage of Cochabamba we hear the newscaster saying something similar that the government says it is a small misunderstanding and will stop soon, and that it is just an unrest of the people who are being unpatriotic and undemocratic. This is the truly interesting part here, because, as shown in the movie, this is what the outside world is seeing. I think it is a valuable lesson here to understand that the news that is coming out of conflict zones is often very skewed and therefore as world citizens we have to question things always to get the true story.

  6. The film presents several commentaries about the local population of Cochabamba that are worth discussing. In depicting the Bolivian water privatization crisis of 2000, Even the Rain also characterizes the past and present victimhood of the natives in the region. Historically, the pattern is clear – from the crimes of Columbus to the exploitation by Aguas del Tunari through unfair price hikes, the population of Cochabamba has continually been used by others. The choice to create a “film within a film” illustrates this fact expertly, with injustice both modern and historical being demonstrated to the viewer on and off the set. The manner in which the producer of the film sees the natives not as individuals but just as tools to be used in his film indicates his ignorance to the fact that he too is part of the problem. Perhaps he simply doesn’t care. Regardless, the film crew’s indifference speaks to the wider societal problem of apathy from first world nations towards the problems of developing regions.

    Water, a key element of the film, plays a role that touches on a great deal of what we have discussed in class. The significance of water, as well as our general lack of appreciation for it, can be seen through the fury of the citizens of Cochabamba, who clearly understand its value. To them, it is not something that is taken from a shelf; it is instead a key aspect for life. Modern American society has forgotten this fact. We take water and the life it brings for granted. Even the Rain succeeds in reminding us of its true significance, and the value it holds to people around the world.

  7. I thought that it was really interesting to think about our own relationships with water after seeing multiple perspectives that are far removed from our lives. The Strang article about losing water really brought some insight on water use in my hometown to life. Our area (North shore of Massachusetts) is lush, humid, and wet, but I have heard that we ourselves may be having a water problem. Sometimes in the summer, water bans are put into effect, like those that happen in England. Of course we can drink and shower, but we are not supposed to use hoses or water lawns. I remember hearing in the past that all of the surrounding towns take water from our Ipswich River, and that we have less because of them. It makes me wonder whether huge political battles are being waged between my home and the surrounding lands.

    One question I want to ask the filmmakers is:

    How much did your extras get paid? Do you think it was fair? Was this a decision that was impacted by the social issues discussed in the movie?

    It would be so bizarre if this injustice was discussed in the movie and the filmmakers chose to pay minimal fees to the actors. There are so many parallel conflicts in this movie that span time and space.

    It simultaneously discusses wage inequality in the movie industry, subjugation of indigenous people by outside rulers, and oppressive governments. The overlaps tie everything closely together and this movie had multiple layers of complexity.

  8. Going off of what Dora said, I think that the scene of Sebastian asking the Bolivian women to pretend to drown their babies stuck out at people as much as it did because we can all understand the horror that someone would feel of being asked such a thing. Sebastian had so distanced himself from the people that he couldn’t see how cruel it was to ask them such a thing. However, I do not think this necessarily makes him a bad person. Morals in the movie are constantly being played with. Ironically, through the majority of the film, Sebastian is actually portrayed as the more moral character, as seen from his desire to make the story of the brutal treatment of the indigenous people of the Americas by Columbus and by his interactions with the Bolivian people. He is the first of the film crew to speak up against the mayor about the poor treatment of the people and the one who argues with Costa against the plan of releasing Daniel only to have him arrested again.

    However, I find it very interesting that—while Sebastian is portrayed as the most concerned and kind of the filming crew—it is Costa who ends up being willing to sacrifice himself to save a child. By the end of the movie, Sebastian is left unable to understand the world around him. All he can do is sit back and simply watch the horrors because he has become so trapped in the film that he cant interact with the real world. Costa, however, who was always in the real world more and so seemed more heartless, was able to step up and do what needed to be done because he still had the necessary ties to reality.

  9. I too found the idea of “water as the new gold” very interesting. Even today, natural resources are a huge commodity that are traded among governments are fought for. As we continue to learn about the hardships associated with water, I become even more appreciative, and skeptical, of our water resources.

    Another point of the movie that I was interested in, was the difference in water environment, or landscape, between the city and the country. In the city, there was no water in sight. The earth was dry and dusty, and buildings were everywhere, no trees in sight. Where as in the country, the earth was well nourished with water, trees abounded and the grass was green. Lakes and rivers were everywhere. This also mirrored the social symbols and feelings toward water in either context. In the city, the locals were always fighting for water, protesting and getting hurt. Water held a lot of negative energy. However, when they went to the country, there was no talk of the water fight. They just continued making the movie. But the second they got back to the city, fighting began again.

    I found that this definitely lent itself well to our working definition of landscape…”a cultural geography that is dynamic both in its physical geomorphological character and its cultural meanings and symbolisms.” In this movie, we truly see how much change the geography can experience: the building of a city, the selling of water and the building of a lengthy water system to bring water in. In addition, we see the dynamic meanings associated with water: the struggle it brings, but the value it holds.

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