Thursday, July 3, 2008

Extraordinary TV evening

Last night, Christine and I were enchanted by yet another superb documentary in the Ushuaïa Nature series by Nicolas Hulot... whom I first mentioned back on 12 December 2006 in an article entitled Monsieur Hulot [display]. This time, the theme of Hulot's adventures was the Amazon in Brazil.

After a few preliminaries about the suicidal destruction of this Amazonian vegetation that is an essential component of Man's survival, punctuated by delightful shots of contacts with friendly dolphins, Hulot plunged into a fabulous reportage of his encounter with a community of naked Indians called the Zo'é.

Members of this small and tightly-knit tribe live in a harmonious Jungle of Eden, where the greatest danger consists of getting killed by a serpent or a panther. Their method of resolving certain social conflicts between members of the community involves laughing. The protagonists are made to lie down on the ground, where they are tickled until they burst out into mad laughter.

Enthralled by Hulot's amazing and magnificent documentary, Christine and I could hardly believe our eyes when we discovered a textual message scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen, informing viewers that Ingrid Betancourt had just been liberated. It was one of those exceptional news items, like the death of President Kennedy (except that, this time, it was wonderful news), when you never forget what you were doing when you received the message. Christine and I, like countless French TV viewers yesterday evening, will surely never forget that we were watching Nicolas Hulot in Amazonia. But, up until the end of the Ushuaïa program, there was no detailed news yet, neither on TV nor on the Internet: nothing more than the message that scrolled non-stop across the screen. And then everything started to happen rapidly.

We imagined confusedly that we might soon see terrible video sequences of a fragile Ingrid Betancourt being wheeled out of a military helicopter on a stretcher, under the surveillance of a medical team. Instead of that, we were amazed by the image of a sturdy smiling combatant, in military clothes, striding down from an airliner like an astronaut who has just returned safely, and in perfect health, from a mission to a remote spot in the sky. A few minutes later, Ingrid was addressing spectators on the tarmac in the style of a politician, a statesman, a general. At times, as she shared with us her vision of six years as a hostage in the jungle, Ingrid had the saintly regard of a madonna from a medieval painting. She had the same kind of simple and ethereal splendor as a Zo'é native, on the fringe of our cruel planet.

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