The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden

 There's nothing like a good story, and "The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden" has a great one that grabs viewers from the first minute and holds on. It's a documentary with all the satisfactions of a well-plotted mystery adventure, with the added fun of its all being true.

Directed by Dayna Goldfine and Daniel Geller, "The Galapagos Affair" is a visually meticulous film that tells the story of a failed paradise, of an attempt to escape the problems of human society that ended up importing them.

In 1929, Friedrich Ritter, a humorless Nietzschean, and his lover-acolyte, Dore Strauch, left their spouses and set off together to live apart from civilization in the remote Galapagos island of Floreana. What they didn't realize, however, was that their letters home were being leaked to the press, and that they were becoming famous.

Their example ends up getting them the one thing they wanted to avoid - neighbors. Next thing they know, a more conventional couple show up on Floreana. Imagine going to the ends of the Earth and then having people show up at your door. And they're not the worst. What shows up next is like something out of demented fiction.

Enter "the Baroness," a neurotic Austrian woman of about 40, who arrives brandishing a pistol, flanked by her two lovers. She announces that she is going to start a hotel and says eerie things about running the whole island. She acts as though the other inhabitants are supposed to be her servants. Suddenly, this isn't a paradise. This is a hell, in which everybody hates or distrusts or dreads everybody else. It is a recipe for calamity.

Eventually, "The Galapagos Affair" becomes a mystery story, one that will keep audiences weighing evidence and thinking about it days later. Easily, this is the most irresistible movie of 2014, so far.


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