Birds of passage is a visually stunning account of the lives of the Wayuu clan who live in northern Colombia.
Over ten years from the late 60’s to the late 70s, it follows the family’s growth in prosperity through their part in the drug trade and their eventual downfall.
Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra’s film is refreshing in how it treats its characters.
In contrast with many Hollywood films there are no main protagonists or antagonists—and no good or bad guys.
As each character is exposed to the competition and monopoly of a profit-led society they are fundamentally changed.
That’s true of characters that the audience are led to believe to be unchangeable.
The film is loosely based on true events and bills itself as being the origin story of the drug trade in Colombia.
Birds of Passage is an accurate depiction of the decade of the violence of the drug trade in this period.
But to reduce this film to just simply a crime drama or a mob film would be a disservice.
This film is about family and tradition. It is a cautionary tale of capitalist greed that seeps into a community leaving only destruction.
An early sequence depicts a white American couple from the peace corps handing the main character, Rapayet, a sticker that says “Say no to communism”.
He shouts back at them “Long live capitalism!” The scene hangs over the film leaving the audience with the feeling that will inevitably become a tragedy.