‘The Last Shaman’ Examines Depression and the Healing Powers of Ayahuasca

Costume SuperCentre Canada

The Last Shaman

Despite the advances of western medicine over the past hundred years or so, there’s still a sense of mystery when it comes to the human mind. There are no simple answers as to the roots of depression and the dark cloud it raises over the psyche. In the new film from director Raz Degan, The Last Shaman, the director follows James Freeman, a young man suffering from an intense case of depression, as he travels to Peru in search of shaman that may use their passed down knowledge and rituals to help cure his intense depression. The Last Shaman is often a fascinating portrait of an afflicted soul searching for answers but sometimes loses its way with its flashy presentation and complete abdication as to issues of class.

James Freeman is an educated young man that, in his own words, says he feels dead inside. This once bubbling young man has been stricken with a case of depression so strong that he feels there are no answers for what’s afflicting him. He’s been in and out of psychiatric hospitals with suicidal thoughts and anti-depressants haven’t been yielding any tangible results. With no other options, James travels to Peru in search of shaman that employ Ayahuasca, a natural remedy used by the tribes, with the hope of curing his incurable depression.

In his first stop, James is slowly weening off his anti-depressants before he can take the Ayahuasca. The combination of substances can be deadly, as James soon finds out when a young man at the first shaman’s village dies overnight due to a mixture of his medication and the Ayahuasca. This is a shocking moment in the movie and one that allows Raz Degan to make his movie about much more than simply natural remedies versus western medicine. As with any substance, careful considerations must be taken and the recklessness of the first shaman that James visits leaves him searching for another healer in the jungle.

It’s a while before James is able to find the shaman that is able to help him and proceeds to begin a six-month process of Ayahuasca and tribal remedies that finally leave the young man with a certain sense of self that had been lost. But there’s also a political aspect to the tribal elements and the growth of Ayahuasca. James’ shaman is expelled from his village and he unable to thank and say goodbye to the shaman when it is his time to leave.

The Last Shaman is a strongly constructed piece of documentary filmmaking for the most part, especially ramping up when the hallucinatory drug is ingested. Here is where The Last Shaman looks like a flashback to ‘60s acid films, color and sound swirling across the screen in a frenzy of images rapidly spliced together. It’s a flashy presentation and little else, a cinematic device that Degan leans on too heavily as the film wears on.

One aspect of The Last Shaman that the film simply doesn’t address are the class issues in James Freeman’s search for a cure. He’s a young man from an affluent family, obviously, but the film fails to address this issue. James is incredibly lucky to be able to take six months traversing Peru in search of a cure for his deep depression, a luxury that is simply unavailable to countless people with a similar affliction. It’s an aspect of James’ story that should get a bit more attention as the film is in a precarious situation of endorsing a tribal remedy that is all but unavailable to most.

The Last Shaman works best when James is bearing the struggles that are going on within his mind, conveying a brutal honesty that is heartbreaking. For the most part, Raz Degan explores the topic of depression and the healing properties of Ayahuasca with a balance that presents its benefits and dangers.


Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Red Sparrow
Better Dead than ‘Red Sparrow’

There’s usually an element of sexiness with spy stories. They hide...

Ryan Coogler and the Cast of ‘Black Panther’ Discuss Bringing Wakanda to the Screen

After years of anticipation, Wakanda is finally making its way to...

Ready Player One Come with me
New ‘Ready Player One’ Trailer Hints at a World of Pure Imagination

We’re living in an odd age where nostalgia has taken over...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
This Bulb Takes Awhile to Light Up – Yu-Gi-Oh! Wave of Light Review

Celestial fairies and counter traps take a while to yield results...

The Dynasty Alters Its Course – Dynasty Warriors 9 Review [PC]

The long-time franchise changes the formula and ventures into a big...

gaming pcs
Prebuilt Gaming PCs: A Better Option in 2018?

A fellow member of the gaming master race, Founder of Easy...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Ninja-K #4: Much Ado About Ninjas

NINJA-K #4 Written By: Christos Gage Color By: Andrew Dalhouse Art By: Juan...

‘BLACK [AF]’ is Imperfect yet Full of Potential

Comics Twitter convinced me to bet on BLACK, the series about...

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of ‘The Prisoner’ with Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, and Titan Comics

The Prisoner has been hailed as television’s first masterpiece; a surreal...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
WWE Slam Crate Starts the Year Off Right

In just two weeks time WWE’s Royal Rumble not only continues...

January’s Loot Crate is Here!

January is a month where resolutions are made, hopes are extended...

Yu-Gi-Oh Kaiba
Yu-Gi-Oh March 2018 Will Be Great For Your Yu-Gi-Oh Kaiba Cards

Yu-Gi-Oh March 2018 will be great for your collection of Yu-Gi-Oh...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Epic Fighting 37 Full Results

Epic Fighting 37 took place tonight from the Four Points Sheraton...

Bellator 193 Full Results

January 26, 2017 – Tonight Bellator returned to Pechanga in Temecula,...

Bellator 192 Full Results including the Welterweight Championship and Heavyweight Grand Prix

January 20, 2018 – Tonight, airing for the first time on...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Magic Hat Brewing Teams-Up with Dropkick Murphys for an Ale as Smooth as Their Sound

Vermont’s Magic Hat Brewing Company teams up with Boston’s Dropkick Murphys...

Cultural Junkdrawer ASSult on AVN pt 2: The Future!

Pt 2 of my AVN 2018 Recap! With Lloyd Kaufman, Pancakes...

Adult Continuity Presents: ASSult on AVN Pt 1: Sex Dolls and Concrete!

A firsthand account of the 2018 AVN show and ANE.

Event News Event Reviews
dough bar
The Dough Bar and the Protein Donut

Created by Marquez and Ondrea Fernandez, The Dough Bar Doughnuts are...

Improve Sleep and Performance with TrueDark

TrueDark by Biohacked aims to improve your sleep, performance, and health by...

Pyramid Escape Room Review
Escape Room LA’s The Pyramid Escape Room Review

Overview of The Pyramid Escape Room The Pyramid Escape Room, Escape Room...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming. Related

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Rising Country Music Artist Kaylin Roberson Talks About her work with St. Jude

Kaylin Roberson is a singer, songwriter and pianist from Raleigh, North...

MTV Unveils Performers for ‘TRL Live’ on October 3rd at 3 p.m. E.T.

NEW YORK, NY (September 26, 2017) – MTV today announced that...

Long Beach Punk Band ‘Spider’ Rocks ‘It’s Not Dead’ Festival

Spider is a heavy hitting punk band out of Long Beach,...

%d bloggers like this: