Los Colores de la Montaña (The Colors of the Mountain) is an excellent Latin American film from Colombian director Carlos César Arbélae. The movie is set in the Andean region of La Pradera, in a beautiful and tranquil mountain town that is caught in the middle of a growing conflict between guerilla fighters and the Colombian military.
The story unfolds from the point of view of three young boys – the brave star of the film Manuel, his best friend Julian, and their spectacled “albino” sidekick Poca Luz. For the boys, the world is about as big as their beloved soccer ball, and although the signs of the encroaching conflict are increasingly apparent, they take solace in the muddy patch of grass that they call a soccer field.
As the film progresses, however, the signs of trouble become more pronounced. Helicopters fly overhead at night and menacing warnings are written on the village schoolhouse. Even the boys’ ability to ignore the conflict through their soccer games comes to a halt when their brand-new ball gets stuck in the middle of a minefield.
Throughout the movie, we are treated to some beautiful cinematography and incredibly solid performances from the child actors that carry the film. And while the premise of the plot may sound a bit contrived at first – using the wide-eyed innocence of some soccer-obsessed boys to illuminate the hardships of war – the film always remains earnest and honest enough to avoid the cliché.