The National Geographic sequence “Atlas of Cursed Areas” manages to sneak in some sly political commentary under the trappings of the common sensationalistic tales of the unusual and supernatural. In the episode “The Curse of West Virginia” host Sam Sheridan journeys to the Mountain State, wherever the curse he investigates is the elusive Mothman, maybe ideal identified as the subject matter of “The Mothman Prophecies,” a 2002 horror movie starring Richard Gere.
In November 1966, in Point Pleasant, a city at the confluence of the Kanawha and Ohio rivers, two partners claimed to have been chased by a giant winged male with glowing crimson eyes though they had been driving in the vicinity of an aged army munitions dump. Additional sightings and other strange phenomena transpired, this sort of as a canine disappearing and bizarre gentlemen in black showing in a diner who didn’t know how to use utensils. Then in December 1967 a sighting of the Mothman was described at the close by Silver Bridge just before it collapsed, killing 46 people. Other disasters followed, which include a flood of coal slurry from a mine in 1972 that killed 125 people in Buffalo Creek Valley.
Sheridan’s search for the fact can take him to a frightening bunker deserted due to the fact Planet War II, where by the creature was rumored to dwell. In pitch darkness (why not stop by in the working day?) he opens the creaky metal door and finds . . . dank walls lined with graffiti. No Mothman, but Sheridan points out that in 1983 the position was declared an Environmental Security Agency Superfund site. He then visits an engineering skilled who demonstrates how the Silver Bridge collapsed since of shoddy building and talks to activists who issue out how West Virginia’s lax restrictions for the fossil gasoline sector have resulted in a lot of catastrophes.
Some attribute these disasters to the curse of Cornstalk, a Shawnee main treacherously murdered in 1777 around Issue Pleasurable by militiamen. Sheridan wonders irrespective of whether the authentic culprit may possibly not be the curse or the Mothman but ruthless developers and mining firms that have razed the landscape, polluted the drinking water, and poisoned the populace. The simple fact that his tires are slashed and an individual chases him off one particular place at gunpoint as he searches for clues indicates that his explanation may well be nearer to the truth of the matter.
“The Curse of West Virginia” can be found as aspect of the “Atlas of Cursed Places” collection on the National Geographic Channel Dec. 29 at 9 p.m. Go to www.nationalgeographic.com/television/displays/atlas-of-cursed-sites.
The Belgian aristocrat of the title in Grace Winter season and Luc Plantier’s The Marquis of Wavrin: From the Manor to the Jungle (2017) was not normally a good dude. Robert de Wavrin (1888-1971) was born into a rich noble loved ones that could trace its lineage back again to the 11th century. At 25 he brought about a scandal when he blithely shot two boys pilfering nuts on his estate, significantly wounding them. Wavrin did not trouble to go to the trial. Following the prosecutor pointed out that the privileges of the nobility had been rescinded in 1789, the court sentenced him to a 12 months in jail.
Wavrin fled to Argentina, exactly where something transformed in him. He was drawn to the wilderness and unexplored spots, touring to the pampas, getting a compact boat with his camera up the Paraná River into Paraguay, then on to Brazil and outside of, taking pictures the animals (occasionally basically loads of pictures of him with useless pumas and tapirs), the landscapes, and the indigenous individuals along the way.
The journey took three a long time. It was the initially of many, and he commenced filming as very well as photographing what he saw. The films brought on a stir, specially “In the Land of the Scalp” (1931), in which he captured the Shuar folks working towards their rite of “tzantza” — shrinking heads. In 1938 he prepared an formidable expedition to learn the supply of the Orinoco River, but he couldn’t elevate more than enough income. Globe War II intervened, and his travels finished. He died in 1971, mostly neglected, his movies dropped.
Wintertime and Plantier’s film tells this tale in Wavrin’s possess terms and images — the previous verging on the magniloquent, the latter limpid and haunting. The photos have survived due to the fact of Winter’s function in the Royal Movie Archive of Belgium, recovering and restoring them, which the film also specifics. While Wavrin verges at situations on the voyeuristic, he does not indulge as did some early ethnographic documentarians in a colonialist, condescending perspective to indigenous men and women but is in its place deeply curious, empathetic, and protecting. In one prescient scene he shoots a primitive village on stilts in a lake in Venezuela, and then cuts to the other shore to a modern version of the same — rows of oil wells, the beginning of the exploitation and despoliation that will render almost all of Wavrin’s beloved tribes extinct.
Peter Keough can be achieved at [email protected].