‘The Constant Gardener’: The Making and Unmaking of Human Legacy

by on October 12th, 2005

In the sprawling nature-scapes of Kenya an unnatural evil is unfolding: belying the graceful sojourn of the migratory birds, the copper-azure tinted primeval paradise- invoking the very beginning of time, reaching into Pre-History.

Fernando Meirelles’ inspired production, ‘The Constant Gardener’ is an illustration of the primitive and the post-modern, and the dichotomy of their uncommon coexistence.

Tessa Quayle (Rachel Weisz) is an articulate rebel: a zealous, youthful, and talented defender of Conscience. Actively disturbed by the perceived political and international subversions of the British government, and the concomitant rise of an exploitative and ruthless Corporate State, Tessa becomes embroiled in a scheme perpetrated by a Corporation called ‘Three Bees’- a leading agent in the chemical-pharmaceutical industry devoted to creating a remedy to TB with an innovation called Dyprexa, whose fatal side effects are being tested across native populations across Africa.

When her unsuspecting husband Justin (Ralph Fiennes), a representative in the British Embassy, discovers that Tessa’s ‘research’, consisting of a sixteen paged report denuding the unconscionable practices of the pharmaceutical agency, lead her to her gruesome death at the hands of the alarmed villains, he launches a personal crusade, continuing where Tessa had left off.

Justin’s quest takes him far from Africa, into Germany-the heart of the pharmaceutical giant. Traveling under a pseudonym, Justin’s guise proves insufficient, when he is beaten up by hired hands: “Last warning” reads an ominous notecard left for him.

Inevitably, over the course of the journey, Justin is killed in the same spot where Tessa was murdered, in a plot technique reminiscent of the movie ‘Gladiator’, where Russell Crowe starred as the analogous protagonist ‘Maximus’.

His death brings disclosure, redeeming both the shared love and creed of Tessa and Justin Quayle: a triumph for Conscience and Verisimilitude.

Meirelle’s message is certain: Globalization has afforded evil a new playground, one encompassing the distant corridors of the world. Corporations dictate policy, manipulating governments that exist under the pretext of Order. Indeed, this may just be the New World Order.

Yet the reality today is indistinct from the reality a hundred, even a thousand years ago.

Organized and systemic exploitation of those incapable of defending themselves have been as common a tradition in our history as rats in sewerage tunnels.

In our paean to the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians, and Christopher Columbus, we are not attentive to the inalienable reality of the discrete and open exploitation each effected on the lesser endowed. While, our Conscience have survived time; time itself has remained universal in its prophetic irrefutability.

So too, the exploitation of our unfortunate global brothers, the blacks of Africa, will one day be recorded in a stirring paragraph in a history book, competing only too valiantly for attention, amongst volumes of accomplishments written in a new vocabulary; the transpired episode, noted as something sad but inevitable, disturbing but not disconsolate, by a new breed of people free from the afflictions of AIDS, tuberculosis, tribal genocides: courting new problems, more civilized ones.

As ‘The Constant Gardener’ rakes his soil patiently, seeds of an uncertain blossom are hibernating beneath the tousled soil.

“We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”~ Albert Einstein

“One… gets an impression that civilization is something which was imposed on a resisting majority by a minority which understood how to obtain possession of the means to power and coercion. It is, of course, natural to assume that these difficulties are not inherent in the nature of civilization itself but are determined by the imperfections of the cultural forms which have so far been developed.”~<b>Sigmund Freud

Alexander Rai