Emanuel is a volunteer doctor with a personal mission to care for the riverside people and tribes of the Amazon but he ends up being the victim of a gang specializing in human trafficking. Leonor is a biologist doing research on native plants in the Amazon in order to win an award and unfortunately crosses path with the same gang in Libertos: O Preço da Vida.
Libertos: O Preço da Vida is a 2018 Brazilian Portuguese-language independent faith-based drama film about human trafficking in the Amazon region. The film is written by Luciana Costa and directed by Jefferson Mali. The cast consists of André Ramiro (Tropa de Elite) Julia Gama, and Alessandro Ramos in leading roles accompanied by Fincine Souza, Jorge Mesquita, Lino Camilo, Fernanda Marquez, Guga Sabatie, Victor Barros, Homero Ligere. The Soundtrack is composed by Allison Melo and Jader Santos and distributed by Universal Production Music.
The film is produced by the Brazilian production company Seven Filmes in partnership with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which is in charge of distributing the material not only in Brazil but also in other South American countries. The team was assisted by the Department of environmental police of the local Amazonian Military Police and the indigenous community CIPIA.
The film is rated PG-13, has been dubbed in Spanish and is approximately one hour and twenty-five minutes (1:25) long and won many awards from faith-based film festivals. The title means “Freedom: The Price of Life”. Libertos: O Preço da Vida promises to lead the viewer to reflect on the concept of freedom and draw parallels with the hope of liberation offered by a faith-based-centered life.
WHERE TO WATCH
The Portuguese version can be watched for free on the Felis7Play platform and the Felis7Play official YouTube channel. The dubbed Spanish version of the film titled “Libertad: El Precio de la Vida” can be watched on Felis7Play streaming platform, and YouTube. The film is also on Yojma TV, but is geographically restricted.
THE STORY OF LIBERTOS: O PREÇO DA VIDA
In this section, I will share with you how I understood the story with subtitles. Yes, there are going to be major spoilers, but I think it’s important to share this perspective because sometimes things can get lost in translation or cultural differences may have an impact on how one interprets the story. I think it’s unfair when this happens with critics that are very quick to judge. Especially with foreign cinema, audiences tend to rely on critics and influencers that sometimes have their own biases or even have no idea about what they are reviewing.
Eventually, I think it’s better to watch it and make your own assessment. Sometimes rewatching is necessary. Afterward, it’s fun to compare with these “critics and influencers” and see how much they got wrong. There is always something. Now, let’s get into the story…
The story starts showing a nice suburban area. A woman, Leonor, preparing for a speech for her award ceremony. We hear her narrating the story of how she met Emmanuel, volunteer doctor with a personal mission to care for the riverside people and tribes of the Amazon. We then see the Amazon region of Brazil. We meet doctor Emanuel doing voluntary work for an indigenous community. The community is threatened by a gang. Casimir, the leader of this gang is selfish and manipulative, he has terrorized the region, with his henchmen Jacinto, Marcel, and Laurencio.
They force the doctor to go with them as they came to know that he is there by one of the men from the indigenous community that betrayed him. In the meantime, Leonor, a biologist, just arrived in the area on a Kayak. The rear paddler who steered the Kayak asks Leonor if she really wants him to leave. She told him that she works better alone and that she is capable to resolve things on her own. They agree that he will be back to get her at an agreed time.
We slowly see how much power the gang has in the region. Then we see Leonor with a trophy telling the story of what she went through. This is when you realize that what we’ve seen previously already happened and she is retelling that story. Leonor is captured by the gang. She is treated horrible and is completely terrified when she learns how women are used by the gang. At their camp she meets two other women, Rosa and Nina that have been suffering at the hand of the gang. She is in a world where human beings have been forgotten and treated as commodities especially women, they get raped, their babies are sold and later on they themselves get sold into human trafficking.
Casimir, the leader of this gang, is selfish and manipulative, he has terrorized the region, with his henchmen Jacinto, Marcel, and Laurencio. He does not allow anyone to cross his path and clashes many times with Emanuel. He has very liberalistic views for someone who is a victim which is his strength to survive. At one point he just tells him that all these women are born free.
Nina is severely ill and Emanuel tries to save her. Leonor than narrates how she was in her own world during that time when Nina was sick. She did not really care about anything other than herself and through her own ways. She asks Rosa since when she is here. She told her that she lost count after 5 years and ask her if she had kids at the camp. Rosa tells her that she had children, many captured women have. Leonor tells her that they should escape. Rosa shows her hand that is missing one finger. She tells her that there is no way to escape.
In the meantime, Nina gets worse and asks Emanuel to play her violin. He plays “Amazing Grace”. Nina smiles at the beginning but gets emotional at the end. She asks whether she will die, and tells how she feels guilty that she did so many wrongs to her family but she felt at peace when he was playing. Nina sadly dies. Everyone is in tears including Laurencio.
Rosa is reciting a prayer for Nina. Emanuel sees a collage of faithful phrases on one of the walls. Leonor then gets hysterical and tells Rosa to shut up and screams to let her free, that she has money. Emanuel tries to calm her and promises that he will help them be free but the gangsters come. Casimir orders Laurencio to punish Emanuel but he refuses. Casimir proceeds to stab Emanuel.
Emanuel knew that in order to save the lives of the kidnapped women, he would have to give up his own life so that they could escape captivity. The gang took notice, Emanuel gets shot, and Casimir gets mad inflict more pain onto Emanuel. Laurencio refuses to further punish Emanuel which is one of Casimir’s orders and ask Emanuel for forgiveness. At this point Casimir has bound Emanuel, who is bleeding, to a tree.
Leonor and Rosa then manage to escape from the camp, and embark on a survival quest through the jungle. The hear more gun shots and assume that Emanuel has died to save them. Casimir puts Laurencio in a cage. Casimir along with one of his remain henchmen go after the women but the amazon police is also in the region. We that the police have reach the gangs camp and captured the henchmen.
In the meantime, the women have reached the beach side and are running towards the sea waving at something. We then see that Emanuel is looking up to the sky still bounded to the tree. Back to the present Leonor is telling how Emanuel sacrificed his lived for her and she just let him die and the guilt she feels. When Casimir arrives at the beach, he is faced with a battalion of armed law enforcement officials and goes on his knees.
Leonor remembers Emanuel as a symbol of love and forgiveness. Despite his own bad experiences he still saw the beauty in life. She acknowledges that after going through so much she understood that there are more important things in life to focus on and that she can only accomplish that through change.
We then see Jacinto in Jail and Leonor visiting them. He asked her why she came to visit him. She then tells him how he made her feel like an animal, how much fear she felt, and that she knows how it feels to be in a cage. But she didn’t come to see his suffering but to forgive him.
She has chosen to be free; she has chosen forgiveness. He asked her why. She tells him that Emanuel was right, love is the cure. Jacinto tells her that he just wants to not feel so much hate. She tells him that the truth is liberating. He asked him about Marcel and she tells him that he left. As she is leaving, we see that she is pregnant and Jacinto thanks her for coming.
Back to the present as she is finishing her story, she sees Rosa among the attendees and goes to her. We then see her at the beach right after she was recued and the song Amazing Grace starts while a montage showing a short summary of the nightmare lived. Leonor then further narrates that this was the story of the man who saved their lives and offered them redemption. He saved them from an unimaginable evil. He took up on himself to carry the ugliness of humanity on his shoulder and took their place. He gave her faith and hope.
More important than the prize and recognition Leonor received is the second chance he offered her. Then a Portuguese script from the bible Galatas 5:1 is projected on a ship nearby “ Christ set us free to live in freedom. Therefore, stand firm and do not submit to the yoke of slavery again.” We then see Leonor and Rosa watching the sunset. Leonor then tells her that Rosa was right in the believe that his sacrifice was the price for their lives. They then start to repeat over and over that they are free. We then go back to the present at the award ceremony where Leonor let Rosa meet her family, her husband and her daughter Victoria.
I wish the story was told differently and have the screentime equally distributed among the lead actors. In the end, both women were liberated but we only learn the detailed experiences of one of them which I don’t think is fair. In the beginning Leonor acknowledges that she is egotistic and through all the film it’s all about her.
I wanted to learn more about Emanuel and Rosa. Especially Emanuel that is the hero of the story. The film focus so much on Leonor that it misses to bring the issue of human trafficking more to the forefront and exploring the phycology of Emmanuel. Despite its weak points, the film does offers a deeper reflection on life and the future. Do we realize the value of our freedom?
THE VALUE OF EXTERNAL FREEDOM
Having the freedom from captivity to educate yourself and have your own opinions, travel, choose your spouse, choose your job and build your business, and choose where you’ll live and how to live is priceless. Those that have them should always remember how lucky they are and make sure it stays that way. It is so easy to lose your freedom when you are scared. We have seen examples of these in the last decade. In the U.S. after the 9/11 attacks, the people were not paying attention and the government passed the Patriot Act that facilitated the surveillance of the U.S. by their own government agencies without their knowledge.
Later on, as social media took off sharing private information became a commercial commodity as people did it voluntarily and it has almost become a normal thing to do. Even though some people were against sharing their private information online such as medical records. Thankfully most privacy laws are against this which is why now many people can retaliate against corporations and government agencies that violated these laws. The right to privacy should be restored.
THE VALUE OF INTERNAL FREEDOM
Having the freedom to live mentally in peace is difficult. Free of fear, and guilt. It means choosing to stay away from coercion and manipulation by others obsessed with money and power but also from the mainstream media that influence culture negatively having people choose to leave their freedoms and subject themselves to ideas and behaviors that will mentally capture them into addictions that are difficult to fight against without having a foundation based on faith. It’s an internal fight. Those that don’t have the strength to stay away willingly become prisoners but they can also choose to be free. To be mentally free is difficult to achieve but worth fighting for, by having faith that it is possible to achieve freedom.
Emanuel, whose name already refers to Jesus Christ – the “God with us” – faces a dilemma against drug dealers who are threatened by the character’s liberating attitude. But he ends up becoming a threat to the gang specializing in human trafficking, led by a selfish and manipulative thug. Thus, the conception of freedom in the midst of slavery makes reference to the human condition of sin, drawing a parallel between the story of the film and the Ministry of Jesus.
Human trafficking, is one of the darkest forms of crime on the planet, responsible for moving the largest sum of clandestine money known, alongside drug trafficking and arms trading. Unfortunately, in this world, the value of human beings as commodities is a reality because of power-hungry and corrupted individuals sitting in positions of power in society. The value of human life has been disregarded by many who feel that the climate and their personal feelings are more important than human life.
Humans are being trafficked more today than during the period of the Atlantic Slave trade when it was legal to own slaves. Children, women, and men are coerced to perform forced labor in many parts of the world, yet nobody at the top levels seems to care.
There have been so many wars financed by the West that have destroyed many lives of ordinary people that didn’t have anything to do with the conflicts. Many of them have become victims of human trafficking. Yet there is no uproar by the people whose taxpayer money is used for these atrocities. Instead, there is an uproar about the climate and the individual’s feelings which are very small issues compared to people dying in wars and human trafficking.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A BIOLOGICAL ADULT FEMALE
Women generate more business for the criminal ring because they can be used multiple times. But they don’t see them as human beings. Even though they are valuable they are still mistreated. They get raped to become pregnant, the babies are sold and later the women themselves also are sold as commodities.
A woman is a biological adult human female that needs protection. When you take some time to hear or read the horrible stories of women who have been trafficked you question why there aren’t more laws protecting biological adult females and why they are trying so hard mainly in the West and Europe to blur the lines between a biological man and a woman through new legislations and standards. It almost seems like they want biological women to be less protected making them an easier target for biological males. It almost seems like people from the criminal ring are sitting in positions of power.
Leonor is a great example of a woman that thinks she can do anything but in reality is completely unprepared for it. As she is going into the Jungle she should have taken self defense lessons and armed up. Taking her captive didn’t last long. Another mistake was going into a danger zone alone taking no precautions. There are horror stories told about the Jungle but she seems to be in a stuck in a first class bubble.
THE ROAD TO REDEMPTION
After being rescued, Leonor goes to visit Jacinto, who is now in prison. This meeting shows that forgiveness, which is the result of love, brings mental freedom and peace. When we forgive someone, we liberate ourselves from the road of personal destruction. And for those who choose to believe they can understand a little more of the depth of God’s love.
As Jacinto breaks down in tears, Leonor reminds him of something that Emanuel always used to say “The truth sets you free”. Even though Jacinto has conflicted feelings thanks to Leonor he is at the start on the road to redemption.
THE VALUE OF SACRIFICE
Emanuel knew that to save the lives of the kidnapped women, he would have to give up his own life so that they could escape captivity. This same love and altruism shown by Emanuel had a great impact on Leonor, one of the victims of human trafficking. Leonor represents all the people who, when reached by the love of God, are shocked by the dimension of their sacrifice, and are immediately transformed and start to see and live life in a different way. We are Freed in the Grace of God.
GIVING IT A CHANCE
I found this film randomly on YouTube. The theme is interesting and the length of the film is very attractive. It’s like instead of watching two episodes of a series you don’t like you can choose to watch something new. I will not deny that it was a challenge to find detailed information about this film. There is no official general information about the film such as the budget, casting details, behind the scene challenges and it doesn’t seem to have much info on IMDd.
On top of that, the film seems to be mostly available in Spanish with no English subtitles . This makes it very difficult for the global audience to engage with this film. Unfortunately, only those that understand Portuguese or Spanish would be able to see this film on the platforms previously mentioned under the “Where to Watch” section.
Libertos: O Preço da Vida is a drama with a lot of emotional tension addressing a difficult subject that has been a constant problem not only in Brazil but also the remaining countries in south America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. It is also a story of sacrifice and second chances told through Leonor’s perspective.
Unlike people in the North this issue is very much in the zeitgeist of conversations of people from the Caribbean and Latin America because the victims are prominently from these regions. I know there are many more places that also deal with this issue but these are close to home for me. Human trafficking is constant cancer that is still causing harm in the Caribbean, Central, and South America because of powerful people that believe they are above the law.
The film is not annoyingly preachy. You can interpret choosing to be free by doing good with the help of the almighty, a divine power that indirectly helps those who choose to do good. It doesn’t necessarily need to be Christ; it can be the god of any of the other religion or the Almighty that created the big bang.
Somehow the filmmakers managed to tell an engaging story in a considerably short time compared to the regular timeframe of films which is approximately 2 to 3 hours. It is a shame that the film has not been promoted more for global audiences.
My Rating: 6.5/10
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