This is the in-depth presentation for this movie. An abbreviated version that just features Norbert is available here. Every now and then, one of Norbert’s films or roles is so memorable or powerful that I present the entire feature in screencaps along with a detailed synopsis. Seeds of Tragedy is such a movie. Not only is Norbert’s performance outstanding, the film itself is riveting -- it is one that should be released on DVD, or at least shown on television periodically. I hope you enjoy this full feature presentation of Seeds of Tragedy, a 1991 Sanford/Pillsbury production.
Gunter: Norbert WeisserCarlitos: Lucino HernandezDion: Larenz TateJamal: Lahmard TateMarion: Page MoselyMargie: Terry FinnDrug Boss: Miguel FernandezDirected by: Martin DonovanExecutive Producers: Sarah Pillsbury Midge SanfordWritten By: Alex Lasker
Segment 1: Eastern Andes, Peru Coca Fields: The movie opens with Carlitos and other members of his family plucking leaves from the coca plants that are growing in the mountains where they live. He arrives home with his heavy load by nightfall. As the family sits around the dinner table, his father talks about how it is not safe, easy or fair being a coca farmer these days. The local police work for the Yankees. Their only protection is from the guerrilla soldiers -- as long as they pay them, they are protected. When Carlitos goes to the village to get supplies, he is befriended by a boy not much older than him. Just as he returns, the family has to go into hiding and stash their coca leaves when the police come near, but the guerrillas drive the police away. As they come to collect their protection money, Carlitos sees that his friend from the village is with them.
With the family out of food and money, and another baby on the way, Carlitos and his father head to another village where they can sell the leaves. Carlitos packages them in a special wooden box with a snake painted on the top, then he and his father head down the river to sell their goods.
Segment 2 -- The Amazon River, Pulcallpa, Peru:After Carlitos and his father sell the leaves, the buyer heads down the river with them to where his family is. He carries a snake in a cage with him that he keeps on top of the box that contains the coca leaves.
Needing money to support his family, especially with a new baby, the buyer takes the leaves to a man he knows who has promised him a fair price for them. Along the way to Iquitos, Peru, they are stopped by the local police in order to have their truck searched, but when they see the snake in the cage, the authorities wave them through the checkpoint. When he gets to the broker, however, his luck turns and he is offered only $175 a kilo instead of the $250 he was promised -- the excuse being that it is taking more and more money to bribe officials so the leaves can be transported. Carlitos’ box is then loaded on the plane and flown to the processing facility.Segment 3 -- Vichada, Colombia (this is the segment in which Norbert appears):
As Vernon, the pilot, walks with Ignacio, a supervisor at the processing facility, Vernon hears that one of the men has been killed and that others are trying to walk away. Ignacio thinks it’s the heat, but Vernon tries to convince him that it’s the job, adding that he wants to quit too. As they carry the boxes of leaves to the “kitchen,” Ignacio warns him that the boss won’t like it if he quits. Gunter is working in the kitchen and screaming at his men to work faster. Ignacio and Gunter are enemies, with Ignacio certain that Gunter is stealing -- always into the powder. He is convinced that he is out of control, but he is the only cook they have. (Please see the expanded presentation of Norbert’s role in this on the main Seeds of Tragedy page.)
Gunter has a conversation with Vernon about getting Ignacio off his back or else he will kill him. Vernon tells him to go ahead because then someone would kill him and he wouldn’t have to listen to him any longer. Just then, they hear a plane overhead and realize that the boss has arrived. The boss immediately questions Gunter about the rumors that he is dipping into the soup a little too much. Gunter nervously assures him that they are just rumors and that no one likes him because he runs such a tight ship.
A short while later, the boss breaks up a fight between Gunter and Ignacio, then asks that Vernon join him in his office to talk. Gunter has returned to the kitchen and orders everyone in the kitchen to get back to work -- where they start to process the leaves in Carlitos’ box, and then burn it.
The boss attempts to convince Vernon to just take a vacation and to keep working for him, but Vernon is adamant that he wants out, and the flight back with the goods will be his last. Later, the boss makes an appearance at dinner -- first praising their work, then telling them that their is a traitor amongst them -- someone who married into the family, then ratted him out to the police. The boss shoots him right at the table while a horrified Gunter and an edgy Vernon look on.