Movies »Keep the River On Your Right

directed by David and Laurie Gwen Shapiro (2001)

Tobias Schneebaum, the charming subject of Keep The River on Your Right, is a fascinating man full of fascinating stories to tell that work much in the favor of filmmakers whose techniques are (at best) uneven and (at worst) invasive, unnecessary and annoying; but I suppose even fish-eye lenses can be overlooked when the story is this compelling. Schneebaum, once a respected New York painter, set off to the wilds of New Guinea and Peru in his younger days to come back with stories of foreign customs (including male sexual partners, which astounded the public in the 1960s), frightening raids, and cannibalism – which is by far the most sensational and most exploited of his adventures; adventures he shared with the world through several publications and garnered Schneebaum both respect and awe.

The movie catches up with the Schneebaum, now making his living as a speaker on expensive tribal cruise ships, as he very reluctantly journeys back to the people and places he once adventured in. He meets an old lover, climbs ruins, and finally rediscovers the people of Peru that he once lived with for months as a younger man. While one might wonder what a fine film it could have made in better hands (Herzog perhaps) it’s a great tale and can be seen instantly on Netflix on demand.

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Posted on March 21, 2010

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