Review: Four Souls of Coyote
- Áron Gauder revisits the Amerindian cosmogony and signs a masterly work, universal and accessible to all audiences, on Nature and the place of humans on Earth
"Only when the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realise that we can't eat money." Placed at the beginning of Four Souls of Coyote [+see also:
film profile] by Hungarian filmmaker Áron Gauder (nominated for the title of best director of the year at the recent Cartoon Movie), released tomorrow as a world premiere in his country by Vertigo Media, this sentence clearly states the ecological intentions of a hyper talented animation artist, back in feature films almost 20 years after the very noticed The District.
Like the main Native American protagonist of his remarkable new opus, the filmmaker has taken the time to weave his ceremonial blanket before descending from his (sacred) mountain with a first-rate creative message about the history of the world, the dance of creation, the place of humans on Earth and the role they have played (and still play) in the processes of monopolising and destroying Nature. A story that plunges into the mythology of the American Indians and that begins in our time on the construction site of an oil pipeline in a desert area illegally devastated by caterpillars. On the horizon, a mountain and at the top, activists including a Native grandfather who, at night, around the fire, tells the story of the genesis of the Earth ("we are on the mountain where the old man creator rested after creating our world").
Nothingness, explosion of colours, ocean, mud becoming dry land, germination, plants, light, animals (including the legendary Tatanka bison, the puma, the bear, the eagle, etc.), butterflies, rainbows: creation is complete, Nature is exuberant, paradisiacal and opulent. But in one of the creator's dreams, four coyotes are on the prowl, wanting to eat. The first of them, cunning, envious and a liar, steals magic mud from the creator and shapes two little humans that he will not stop perverting, leading to the appearance of death, of murder for food, the cycles of the seasons and reproduction. Four coyotes will follow one another, each time resurrecting, releasing the power of Lightning which will be domesticated in the form of weapons by the future conquistadors coming from the other side of the ocean... It will be war, civilisation... But at the "centre of the world, the sacred circle cannot be broken. Everyone is equal (...) The prairie belongs to all of us and we cannot live without the others.” It only remains to "open the eyes of those who cannot see the beauty in this world we are lucky enough to share".
Scripted by the director and Géza Bereményi, Four Souls of Coyote is both simple and subtly sophisticated, both narratively and visually. A fascinating and seductive journey into Native American cosmogony that more than echoes the great contemporary ecological concerns, the film is a total success accessible to all audiences, a mystical ode to nature that rightly reminds us that "man does not weave the web of life. He is only a strand of it."
Produced by Cinemon Studios, Four Souls of Coyote is sold by NFI World Sales.
(Translated from French)
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