Interweaving past and present and combining fabulous archival film and photographs with current documentary footage, The Lacandon Maya tells the story of an isolated community catapulted into civilization within the space of one generation.
In 1960 Collin Hanney, an explorer, discovered an isolated group of Mayan Indians who 400 years earlier had fled into the Mexican jungle to escape the Spanish invasion. His discovery thrust the Indians into the modern world. Now Hanney's widow returns to the group to see how they have fared and to show them the photos and films Hanney shot when he first encountered them.
The film combines the widow's pilgrimage with the story of one of the sons of a Mayan wise man encountered by Hanney, who pays homage to his father. We learn how the tribe has struggled to keep their culture and language alive, and how they are combating the exploitation of their raw materials and the influx of outsiders. Besides these challenges there is also the effect of access to education and technology on the younger generation.
The film provides insight into the history and mythology of the Lacandon, whose stories even foretold the impact of the destruction of the rain forest on the whole world.
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