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This prizewinning documentary tells a strange true story from 1973: a highly dubious and extravagantly pointless sociological “experiment” that now looks like something between a reality TV pilot and the premise for an Agatha Christie thriller.
Claiming to have been inspired by being one of the airline passengers caught up in a hijack, Mexican anthropologist Santiago Genovés got five men and six women of differing backgrounds (including a female Swedish sea captain) to drift across the Atlantic for 101 days in a boat that was no more than a glorified raft. This was avowedly to examine human behaviour – Genovés piously claimed to be interested in promoting world peace but made no secret of wanting to incite aggression, division and sexual tension.
And, as if to demonstrate his airy indifference to conventional notions of objectivity, Genovés was on board, too, needling and goading his passengers with endless questioning and outrageous suggestions about who they might want to have sex with, and at one stage firing the (notional) captain and reinforcing his own power. He was quickly hated.
Film-maker Marcus Lindeen reconstructs the raft using the original blueprint, and uses it as a theatrical set on which to interview the half dozen or so surviving rafters. He also uses the cine footage Genovés shot on board and uses the actor Daniel Giménez Cacho (from Lucrecia Martel’s Zama) to read his diary entries. Genovés died in 2013.
It is an interesting story, and yet the film doesn’t quite summon up the atmosphere of the raft. It doesn’t fully plunge you into that strange milieu, nor does it quite analyse exactly what was going on. It was certainly a weird venture: unenlightened and unenlightening.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: The Raft review – strange tale of a floating human laboratory | Documentary films