Independent film at the Lexi on August 4 & 5.: Darwin meets Hitchcock in an intriguing true-life tale of Paradise lost.
A new take on a shocking tale of broken dreams, sex and murder that gripped the newspapers even as Europe prepared for war, comes to the Lexi, Kendal Rise today and tomorrow.
The true-life Adam-and-Eve adventures of a German doctor, his patient/lover, a self-styled Swiss Family Robinson, and a gun-toting, free-loving baroness, who gate-crashed their Eden, scandalized society in the 1930s.
Now, award-winning documentary film-makers Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller, have pieced together evidence of the dangerous clash of personalities, which tore Paradise apart almost 90 years ago and gave rise to a mystery that made stunning Floreana Island as famous for its ignominy as its iguanas.
The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came To Eden draws on previously unseen home movie footage of the settlers, letters, contemporaneous reports and interviews with today’s inhabitants to recreate the bizarre events that led to two missing persons and three suspicious deaths.
Over its two hours, the movie constructs a gripping whodunit in which the stunning landscape of the Galapagos is as much a star as Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett’s masterful performance in the voice role of Floreana’s put-upon ‘Eve’ Dore Strauch.
The Galapagos Affair also includes performances by Diane Kruger, Connie Nielsen, Thomas Kretschmann, Sebastian Koch, Gustaf Skarsgård and Josh Radnor.
As murder mysteries go, it trumps the BBC’s “Shetland” for remote island locations hiding unsavoury secrets. But what makes it addictive viewing is the fact it happened for real.
“Hollywood had been trying to make it as a fiction forever,” says Dayna Goldfine. “The reason why it hasn't happened yet, although scripts have been flying around for over 20 years, is that it is such a complicated story, and there are so many characters. Each one is worthy of their own script, certainly they are all larger than life.”
Dan Geller adds: “One thing that was important was that we wanted to give them at least some moments where they could state clearly, and with real seriousness, why they were going to the Galapagos and what their first impressions were like. Then that way, when things begin to verge toward the melodramatic or darkly humorous, there is a foundation to understand that these people weren’t just cartoon characters. They had thought this through as much as they could and were trying to do something with a good spirit behind them. Even the Baroness.”
Their salacious memory lives on, though, not just in the islands where the characters’ lives played out – some to a tragic and grisly conclusion – but also on mainland Ecuador. A recent showing of the film in Guayaquil was overwhelmed by audiences demanding tickets and a riot was only averted by the management promising a repeat.
Almost a century after the events, Dayna believes the story will appeal to anyone who has thought of making the great escape to their own particular Paradise. Just beware the dream doesn’t end as badly as it did on Floreana.
“One of the things the film is about is what could happen if you do take that leap?” says Dayna. “You leave society and you go in pursuit of your own little deserted island, in search of Paradise. But when you get there, someone else is already situated on that same island and their notion of Paradise clashes explicitly with your notion of Paradise. What do you do?”
Here’s what people have been saying about the film:
“Move over, Charles Darwin, when it comes to great tales about the Galapagos, you've got company.” - Los Angeles Times
“A hybrid of juicy period soap opera and 'Survivor.'” – New York Times
“A haunting exploration of wildness, human nature and our struggles to escape what perhaps is inevitable.” - Variety
“There's big trouble in paradise… a true-life story so rife with melodrama, exotic lifestyles, sexual intrigue and suspicious deaths that it's surprising that no film has been made about it until now.” - Hollywood Reporter
“The most irresistible film so far of 2014” – San Francisco Chronicle
Today and tomorrow at 6 pm at the Lexi cinema.