Film: 5510

Social History | 1960 | Sound | B/W

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Synopsis:

A narrative told by a person who made a visit to the Highlands of Peru, South America to discover the state of the Indians since the Conquest. Angle is on the growing unrest of the peasants.

Villagers walking to the sound of music, man with a drum a and a drunken woman walking after him. First day of carnival in the Andes. Couples dressed up dancing to traditional tunes. Drunken man with suit. Costumes, traditional dances. Men and women dancing and drinking (probably chicha de jora).
Couples dancing in the rain. Narrator tells us that they dance 2 weeks non stop. Dancing in the roads. Dancing in the square outside the village church. Very nice costumes. Brass band.
Narrator describes the origins of carnival, a religious festival before the beginning of Lent. Churches, Inca stones statues representing monolithic gods.

Old woman with cane walking. Narrator tells us she is only forty years old but she looks much older. Close up of old woman.
Narrator comments on the bleak and sad tone of the carnival celebrations across villages, on the hard life of the Indians. Scene of priest giving extreme unction to old couple in case they die at any moment. Extraordinary wrinkle faces.
Couples dancing. "Carnival is about life and death, about the fertility of the ancient land spreading outside their farm."
Llamas (and alpacas) carrying cereal. Music and singing in the background. People harvesting cereal. Narrator comments that the highland Indians are the same people as the jungle people a few hundred miles away.
Fisherman on a totora boat in lake Titicaca, setting out to fish using ancient fishing technique. Andean music in the background. Several shots of man fishing. Narrator explains how the Indian people are superstitious and rely on the kindness of the gods. Narrator explains use of totora reeds: for boats, for baskets, for bedding.

Uros Island
Huts on islands with lots of children running around. Man building a totora boat. Narrator explains that these are the Uros, and they live as they did during Inca times.

Couples dancing on the road. "What has vanished is the village of the Inca socialism which made the poor existence bearable…carnival has changed in meaning and atmosphere since Inca times. Then each of the men was guaranteed enough land for his family and the cost of festivals was met by the Inca governor so dancing was a form of expression for thanks for his fields and harvests."

Wild vicunas. "Woven vicuna was only wear by the Inca family and nobles during the Empire… now the vicuna is not the only private property but the land… 400 oligarchy families in Peru made the land in the region into one private ranch (hacienda)". Big house in hacienda (mountains in the background). Hacienda owner.
Indians working with wool in the hacienda. Good close ups. "Underneath their servile appearance there are repressed undercurrents of bitterness and violence."
Little girl herding sheep. Mud hut with no furniture inside. Inca terraces. Little girl with ragged clothes. Inca-built terraces known as "andenes" for farming the steep Andean slopes.

Shores of Lake Titicaca with Indian woman walking with three bulls. Oxen. Men in ponchos and kids next to lake Titicaca shores.

Truck with villagers on top travelling to the town to go to Carnival. View from the truck (mountains, Sheep on land, streams). Narrator says that land owners call in army to arrest troublesome Indians and that these actions are accelerating.

Pan to the city of Puno (sits on the North shores of the Lake). Couples dancing in the main square. Full festival attire with hats, skirts, shawls, white high heels shoes.
Aymara Indians in the market of Puno (here the goods are exchanged with the neighbouring country of Bolivia).
Narrator says that ten years earlier Indians revolted in Bolivia and now land is divided amongst the Indians. Indians in Peru now thinks that this solution is the only chance for a better life.
Several shots of the Market.
Graffiti on wall "Viva por el comunista de Bolivia, muera el imperialista Yanki". (Hail to the Bolivian communist, death to the Yankee Imperialism).
Dark streets of Puno, with men and women walking. Narrator says that "dark streets of Puno have become a breeding ground of rumour and intrigue of revolutionaries and agitators". Pan from Puno to the Lake Titicaca.

La Paz (administrative capital of Bolivia)
Shot of La Paz from a mountain.
Parade: Republican Military band, truck full of people, group of masked men trying to lift the skirt of an Indian woman as part of the carnival celebrations. "If you were masks you can do what you like". Lots of people with costumes and masks dancing in the streets ( only men wear masks and chuyo hats). Close-ups of masks, men drinking, women with costumes and wearing typical hats. Noise of crowd and band.
Dancing includes a lot of turning around (women's skirts look fantastic!)
Rival bands come to the square too and compete. Close-ups of women dancing.

Lake Ttitica, Peruvian side
Big ship.
Fish farm
Peruvian scientist experimenting with fish (trout?). ..
Canning of fish.

White English (or Irish or American) catholic priest with Ray ban glasses speaking to Indian in Spanish an informal exterior mass ceremony. Narrator tells us that the Indians feel abandoned by the clergy. Wonderful faces. Carnival confetti.
Men separate from women listening to priest.
Dance band close by to outside mass in full swing. Men in costume dancing.
Priest providing food grain to families. Sign "Cooperativa de Ahorro y Credito Parroquial San Juan.", a loan cooperative. Peruvian woman with a hair do of the 60's in fashionable clothes , working at the cooperative. "Services provided include loans to buy land, send children to school or to the United Nations sponsored technical school.
Students, all men, in a room working with machinery, learning how to use it. Teacher is not Indian. Students wear a uniform. Students fixing a Land Rover jeep.

Procession of the villagers carrying a Christ image. Band. Very good close-ups of musicians. Most men wear western clothes. Some men with candles. Sign of "Bazaar Jerusalem".
Priests with full religious attire with crown hair cut. Men gathered.
"Abajo los Yankis" sign. (Down with the Yankees). Sickle and hammer signs. F.L.N. (National Liberation Front).

Girl crossing the railroad tracks, carrying a table on her back and dishes on her hand. Steam train "226 F.C.C. Interior train: third class carriage, with families travelling to Lima with all their belongings. Train whistle. Flute playing "El Condor Pasa". View from the train: mountains. Train over bridge. Woman breastfeeding baby. Newspaper "El Pueblo" with headline "Naufrago Pesquera en Mollendo" (Fishing boat sank off Mollendo.)
Scenes from train arriving in Lima. Shanty towns, clothes hanging outside to dry, unpaved streets, poor people. Children going through the rubbish. Slums. "Here an Indian can earn ten times as much as in the mountains". Litter, breathing diseases, slums, woman washing clothes outside the house. Drunk men on the street, people pass by.
Mountains. People dancing on the mountain.


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