The Flight of the Condor: A Letter, a Song and the Story of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Directed and Produced by Vladimar Tr. Hafstein and Aslaug Einarsdottir. Vimeo. 2018. http://flightofthecondorfilm. com/#watch. 30 minutes. English with Spanish, French, English, Italian, Icelandic and Mandarin Chinese subtitles.
Narrated by Valdimar Tr. Hafstein, Professor of Folklore, Ethnology, and Museums Studies at the University of Iceland, the film The Flight of the Condor: A Letter, a Song and the Story of Intangible Cultural Heritage begins with a letter. But, to many of us, it also begins at the inaugural conference of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS), which was held at the University of Gothenburg in June 2012, and where Professor Hafstein offered a stimulating keynote lecture surrounding the life-history of the popular song "El Condor Pasa." The narrative arc of this documentary is driven by his engagement with critical work in heritage studies, asking, "when is protection not a means of dispossession?" There has been, therefore, much anticipation for the publication of this heritage narrative, and it does not disappoint.
This 30-minute film traces worldwide circulations and transformations of the melody that is globally known as the 1970 hit "El Condor Pasa," by Simon and Garfunkel. It examines the itineraries of international heritage and copyright norms through oral and written transmissions, reflecting an interest in anthropology on the study of things in motion, rather than on the artificial designation of beginnings and ends (see Rosemary A. Joyce and Susan D. Gillespie. Making Things Out of Objects that Move. Santa Fe: SAR Press, 2015). From the highlands of South America to a cosmopolitan network of cultural and bureaucratic landscapes across the world, the heritage preservation narrative of The Flight of the Condor travels through texts, voices, languages, and landscapes. The narrative brings to light the chaine operatoire involved in the rise and popularization of intangible heritage norms and instruments, one that leans on identifiable individual personalities and states. In alignment with the concerns of intangible heritage, the human scale is preserved and emphasized throughout, both in its dedication to the channels of expertise as well as through the depiction of its stakeholders.
Each itinerary comes to life expertly in the form of a documentary that extends the limits of representation of traditional...