From the diary of Christopher Columbus, October 15, 1492: "And deviated from the land by two lombard shots, there is in all these islands so much depth that one cannot reach it. These islands are very green and fertile and have very sweet airs, and there may be many things that I do not know, because I do not want to stop to go through many islands to find gold". They had only been on land for four days. The gold never existed. It is only possible to suppose the sweetness of the air. The islands are still green.
**Our Take - Small Axe Radical Short Film Reviews by Cole Diment **
Felipe Esparza’s _To Cut a Tree on a Green Moon_ brings non-narrative modes of storytelling to a journey through the jungle. Through the stark black and white images of the jungle we are brought a sense of wonder and mystery, a concoction of confounding and intoxicating visuals that compel us to feel not think. This stance fosters an intriguing relationship to the land and the jungle.
Arguably, the mode of storytelling involved in this film inhibits our ability to project our own thoughts and images onto the screen. Our journey through the jungle in some sense brings to mind Columbus’ own journey and the progressive colonial plunder of the Americas. For Columbus and future conquistadors, the promise of El Dorado, the legendary myth of the City of Gold, acted as a European projection of exotic enticement that plundered the Americas. If we are to project our own ideas of the jungle onto it would we replicate the destruction?
Instead, Esparza asks that we feel the jungle, without thought, through visuals and sound. We must feel the images through are senses, sound and the ear being the chief recipient of pure phenomena. In this way we are presented with a pure optical-sound situation that defies our comprehension of it. We must relax and somehow negotiate our inability to fully know the land we see.
This has its political ramifications. As Esparza shows, this land belongs to the indigenous people we see both organised within the land and participating in religious ceremony in. Rather than represent these people in ethnographic terms, which proceeds from the idea that they can be known and categorised, the film obstructs such thought. Instead, the silence of their bodies that greets us compels us to silence ourselves, a silence in which we may observe the violence of Western knowledge.
Felipe has asked that we link you to two resources:
- The conservation area El Chino where Felipe produced To cut a tree on a green moon
- Google Drive with short film material in by Felipe