The Mexican star, who found global success with 'Y tu mamá también', 'Babel' and playing young Che Guevara in ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’, tells HuffPostUK, how this bit of the world represents the same undiscovered land we used to see in the classic Westerns that inspired his new film ‘The Burning’.
“It’s a place of new hope, but also great fragility, because the law hasn’t been fully put in place,” he explains. “New immigrants arrive, new cultures have to find their way and adapt to the setting. The Wild West has gone, now it’s the jungle and the Arctic shelf that represent those hidden places.”
Gael admits he was surprised when he received the script for the film ‘The Burning’ that he was set to star in – and discovered he only had 16 lines of dialogue in the entire story. This made more sense to him, though, as he grew more and more attached to the story, set in the Argentinian rainforest.
“The whole question that the film asks is to what extent human cultures should be pushing their way into the jungle and imposing their codes on it,” he says. “It became a much bigger film than I thought it was going to be, and I became smaller.
“This terrain was once very lush and welcoming, but at a certain point of population, it became difficult to sustain life. The groups that exist there are now are small in number, they have few resources, and that’s the only way they can balance themselves, it’s a very fragile eco-system.
“Maybe we shouldn’t even be in the jungle, or we have to find ways to adapting to the eco-system, in the way indigenous people have done.”
In ‘The Burning’, Gael plays Kai, a mysterious figure emerging from the rainforest to rescue Vania (Alice Braga), a young lady kidnapped by mercenaries, men who have taken over her farmer father’s land.
The film is part-Western, part-romance and with a defiantly anti-corporate message coming through. Despite several of his previous films having political themes, Gael is emphatic the films he appears in don’t have to be part of “a good story”.
“Being part of culture in South America, there’s a political dimension that you can’t really separate from,” he begins. “But, right now, I wouldn’t give films the responsibility of telling the story.
“A good story exists on TV these days. They’re really good and they have the time to tell the story in depth, with characters evolving.
“Because they’re doing it so well on TV, a good story is not enough for film. It has to do something different. It has to be faithful to filmlic language, to the abstract, the poetic… that’s it. When I go to the cinema, I want to see a poem.”
'The Burning' is on release now. Click here for info. Watch the trailer below...