As clean water becomes increasingly scarce globally, it is probably not an accident that access to water is one of the prominent themes in two of the most gripping films that have been released this year. The first movie, “También la Lluvia” (Even the Rain) is an excellent Spanish film which I wrote about a few months ago, that is set in Bolivia. The need for water is also one of the main characters interwoven into the engaging dramatic plot of my other favorite movie of 2011, “Meek’s Cut Off“.
The story in “También la Lluvia” follows a filmmaker, played by Gael García Bernal, who brings a film crew to Bolivia to shoot a movie about Spanish imperialism and the enslavement of the indigenous people. Bernal and his crew arrive at the turn of the century, during the explosive protests of the Cochabamba water crisis, as foreign companies are attempting to privatize the local water supply.
Lost on the Oregon Trail
The desperate need for water is also integral to the plot of the superb movie “Meek’s Cut Off, which is set in the year 1845, somewhere out on the bleak and dusty Oregon Trail. In the film three pioneer families in covered wagons have hired an inept arrogant mountain man, Stephen Meek, to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Meek claims to know a short cut, but ends up leading the group into a vast high plain desert, where they become hopelessly lost in the brutal parched barren landscape.
This excellent movie features three strong, complex female characters, something very rare in most films; Michelle Williams gives an astounding performance as one of the resilient pioneer women trying to survive. “Meek’s Cut Off” also offers many compelling insights into our basic human needs, imperialism and culturally specific behavior.
Neither of these well-made cinematic treasures got much mainstream attention when they were first released earlier this year, but they are both well worth seeking out. You will definitely be glad that you did.