Synopsis by Brian Whitener
The Yanomami, an indigenous people of Venezuela, have been a favorite of Western anthropologists for fifty years. Originally studied for their kinship structure, they are now one of the largest native populations in the world. In the late 1970s, Juan Downey set off for an extended visit to the Yanomami, ostensibly to study their funeral architecture. But his trip turned into a personal quest for a cultural identity, the spirit of which he captures in The Laughing Alligator. Downey's narration is a heady mixture of intellectualisms and poetic flights -- as is his understanding of the Yanomami. There's an interesting diaristic exploration of identity here, if you can get past the National Geographic footage and 70s film theory.