The Galapagos Affair (Satan Came to Eden), (2013)

The Galapagos Affair (Satan Came to Eden), (2013)

Cast: Diane Kruger, Connie Nielsen, Sebastian Koch
Studio: Zeitgeist Films (9/9/14)
Directors: Dan Geller, Dayna Goldfine
Video: 16:9 color & black-and-white
Audio: English PCM stereo
Length: 2 hours
Rating: ****1/2

A most unusual documentary. One reviewer calls it Darwin Meets Hitchcock. The subtitle comes from that of the book written in the late ‘30s by the mistress of the Berlin doctor Ritter. They were the first two to settle on one of the smallest islands of the Galapagos group, which at the time was uninhabited. A later book on the whole experience was written by another lady who soon after had moved to the island, Floreana.

The German doctor, who was heavily into Nietzsche, wanted to flee conventional society and start a new life there. The international press soon found out about the situation and sensationalized them as the island’s Adam and Eve. Then another German family moved to the island, fancying themselves as a sort of Swiss Family Robinson. Then came a gun-toting woman and her two lovers; she claimed she was a Viennese Baroness but it was later discovered that was not true. She had plans to open a hotel on the island to cater to very wealthy travelers.

Then things got complicated, with much intrigue among the various people on the small island. The so-called Baroness snagged a wealthy boat-owner and even starred in a silent film with one of her lovers, playing a piratess. Eventually the Baroness and one of her lovers had disappeared completely (their bodies were never found) and her second lover had died attempting to leave the islands for civilization. It has never been settled what had happened to the two people.

I received only an advance preview disc, yet the online product details list Cate Blanchett as being the main person in the film. I have no idea how that could be—the voice track consists of readings from many sources using various voices—perhaps hers is one of them. The interviews with children of the original families and others on the island are interesting.

—John Sunier

 

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