Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

"The Galapagos Affair": Weirdos in Paradise 

Wednesday, Apr 9 2014

This is not a quiz, or a joke, but actually a good question: What happens when a brooding Nietzschean gets away from it all to the Ground Zero of Darwinian epiphany, then gets deeply annoyed by the arrival of his new neighbors? The answer is complex, and cautionary. In The Galápagos Affair, San Francisco filmmakers Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller chronicle the true tale of strange events set in motion when, in 1929, the philosophically inclined German doctor Friedrich Ritter and his mistress Dore Strauch decamped for the totally DIY life in Floreana, a rugged and uninhabited island off the coast of Ecuador. Word got out, and soon the so-called "Adam and Eve of the Galápagos" found their solitude interrupted by the so-called "Swiss Family Robinson of the Galápagos," along with a gun-toting Austrian baroness and her two peculiar lovers. By 1934, civilization was on the ropes back in Germany, but this tropical alternative seemed pretty much down for the count too. With characteristic poise and intelligence, Goldfine and Geller spin the yarn very well, balancing eccentricity with accessibility. Their film makes judicious use of its subjects' home movies and of Ritter and Strauch's usefully articulate writings (read, respectively, by Thomas Kretschmann and Cate Blanchett). Blessed with a great cast of human characters, they also pay keen attention to various beasts, some more domesticated than others. If the movie tends to sprawl a little, that only reinforces its validity; too-tidy packaging might betray the telling, nuanced weirdness of the tale itself.

About The Author

Jonathan Kiefer

SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"