Western civilisations and modern medicine sometimes fail to give answers. When this happens, people often search for miracles in more obscure cultures. Icaros: a Vision is a fiction movie exploring an ancient Amazonian ritual involving the drinking of ayahuasca. An American woman embarks on a journey to the Peruvian rainforest seeking transcendence, companionship and healing.
Angelina is sick and decides to travel to an indigenous community in the jungle in order to try something entirely new. The film explores the idea that some significant truths are revealed during trips. Going to the jungle symbolises entering darkness in search of enlightenment. Since prehistoric times, forests have offered shelter to cultures that have existed as hunters and gatherers. Such primitivism allows encountering mankind’s early ancestory and achieving wisdom to fight against the fear of the unknown.
In her spiritual journey, Angelina meets a young shaman, who will guide her through the ritual of ayahuasca, a powerful hallucinogenic brew made from the Amazon caapi vine. Other foreigners undergo the same experience, including an Italian man (Filippo Timi, also in Blood of My Blood by Marco Bellocchio, 2015) who wants to overcome drug addiction as well as to receive massage treatment. She takes a hallucinogenic infusion and believes that she will find the answer and cure in her dreams. Vomiting and defecating is part of the ritual, as well as self-inflicted pain. “Icaros” refers to distinguished local shamans who could “fly” just like the Greek myth.
The film shows some impressive animations of the psychedelic trips and conversations with entities. It is visually inventive and hypnotic in nature. Videogame images serve as an allegory of the unexpected dangers and monsters that come to Angelina’s mind. The movie is also very true to the habits and routines of Amazonian tribes. The directors mix the story itself with images of animals, enriching the narrative with the spirits of the forest. It is a clever way of registering the culture of these Amazon tribes.
At a certain point, Leonor Caraballo and Matteo Norzi pay a tribute to German filmmaker Werner Herzog and his movie Fitzcarraldo (1982). Fitzcarraldo (Klaus Kinski) is a foreigner obsessed with building an opera house in a small Peruvian city. He hatches an elaborate plan in order to kill the rubber business in the name of art, but nature defeats him in the end. In Icaros: a Vision, the jungle laws are in accordance to Angelina’s desire. There is a relation of respect and complicity between the woman and the jungle.
The rainforest is dark but full of glittering diamonds. The perception that Western civilisations still have to learn with indigenous peoples is a strong statement for cooperation and partnership. Angelina takes the shaman to an ophthalmologist in the city as he has sight problems. It is her turn to guide a healing process. It is clear then that in every healing process both the healer and the patient grow.
DMovies held three exclusive screenings of Icaros a Vision in London between July 5th and July 7th, followed by a Q&A with the film producer Abou Farman.
Click here for Abou Farman’s advice on how to film in the jungle, according to his experience with Icaros.