13-year-old Maria (non-professional Karen Torres) is one of the numerous forced child soldiers in a squad of young guerrilla fighters somewhere in Colombia’s jungle. The atmosphere is hot, moist, and full of insects, screaming birds and other animals galore. Most importantly, the enemy seems to be lurking everywhere in the deep green and in great numbers. The regiment is in no way laissez-faire, but sex is allowed; of course, the girls have to pay the price for intercourse that is most likely forced upon them: When the doctor detects a pregnancy, abortion is inevitable. Only the commander’s girlfriend is allowed to secretly bear her child. When the group has to break camp and escape the approaching enemy army, inexperienced Maria is appointed the difficult task of carrying the baby out of the battlegrounds and into safety. Together with three other soldiers on a supply mission led by Mauricio, Maria’s lover, she heads into the wilderness.
The little group is in constant danger of being spotted and attacked. It is as if they are fighting their way through a hostile Nature that is against them. There are ants, bugs and mosquitoes covering everything like a living, crawling carpet, everyone is constantly sweating, the baby is screaming, it’s like a hot, fertile biotope: Alias Maria manages to suck the viewer into a boiling hot nightmare that is almost palpable. However, the audience just doesn’t know all too much about the characters and opponents of war. Once, disguised as a civilian, Maria is almost raped by one of the paramilitary soldiers near the site of a massacre, alluding to their behaviour towards the guerrilla troops and the population. Mauricio and the commander reveal themselves to be equally pitiless when necessary. The civilians seem to be paranoid or apathetic.
Alias Maria‘s plot and cinematography narrowly focus more on the actions than the words of Maria and the film’s few protagonists. By leaving out a lot, the tale aspires to convey more general – maybe universal – truths, but in order to engage the viewer, to create interest and empathy, some more information about the conflict, characters’ back stories and the motivation behind the war would be dearly appreciated.
Alias Maria does not yet have a UK release date.
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Watch the trailer of Alias Maria here: