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Have you ever seen a movie you thought was great, but couldn't even
remember its name a month later? This is one movie you will never
I have heard it said that the true test of a movie, or any art form, is whether it accomplishes what it set out to do. Did it inform you, delight you, anger you, scare you, or make you laugh? Besides presenting a very entertaining and original storyline, this movie wants you to care about the environment. After seeing The Emerald Forest, I immediately called one of the major environmental organizations (I don't want to play favorites, but it's one of these: The Nature Conservancy, WWF, Greenpeace, The Sierra Club...) to set up automatic monthly contributions. I never expected a movie to have so great an impact on me, especially such a long lasting one. You would expect that, after time, my enthusiasm would diminish, especially since I have no interest in ever visiting the Amazon! None whatsoever. However, this movie really changed my perspective on the global environment as a whole.
The central character is Tomme (Charlie Boorman). While watching his father direct the construction of a huge dam, Tomme is quickly and silently taken away by a native Brazilian Indian tribe called the Invisibles. They don't see their actions as kidnapping. When they see the young boy, they figure he would be better off with them, rather than with the "termite people", the name they give to the white men who seem to devour all the trees.
Tomme's father spends the next 10 years trying to find him.
This is definitely a thought-provoking movie, but one that is not too heavy handed. It's one of the most entertaining movies I have ever seen, the type of movie you can watch over and over.
Update: Since I had not seen this movie for many years, I decided to see it again last night. I was totally blown away. It was even better than I remembered. Although my original 9-star rating is very high praise, I can't fathom how I could have enjoyed the movie more, so I raised my rating from 9 stars to 10 stars. Director John Boorman also directed Beyond Rangoon, and some other films that are amazingly good.
Charley Boorman's performance is simply brilliant. I can't imagine anyone better in the role of Tomme in The Emerald Forest. I am definitely going to start watching the other movies he has made.
I actually grew up near the city of Belem, shown in the beginning of
the movie, and spent 18 years in the region. I also spent time in many
of the Indian tribes in the area, including being "adopted" into one at
the age of five.
The movie does a great job of showing many aspects of life in the jungle, including some of the lawlessness. The costumes are fairly authentic, and portrayal of many tribal customs is well done. The manhood ceremony is closely based on authentic ceremonies that happen in most tribes.
Altogether, about as good as you can expect from something that is not intended to be a documentary.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this movie years ago as a 13 year old and I can say without
exaggeration that no other movie has had such a strong and lasting
impact on me. While I was aware of the sacrilege going on in the
Amazon, this opened my eyes to it like never before. Shortly after this
I ran away from home with a friend, with the intention of going to
Brazil, mobilising the Indians into a guerrilla band and killing the
loggers. It took our families all of two days to track us down at a
port city : )
But I never forgot the lesson this movie taught me and today I work for a conservation organisation. Some of the Indian quotes from the movie are truly tear jerkers. "When we were young the end of the world(the limits of the forest) was very far away, but it gets closer and closer each day" or something to that effect. As an idealistic kid I saw no flaw in this movie and cheered at the improbable climax where the rains destroy the dam and the captured Indian women throw away their cheap clothes and return to the forest. This movie is a must watch
Certainly the best of Boorman. After seeing again Deliverance, which was thrilling when it was first released, and Excalibur, poetical, Wagnerian but a little bit out of date (regarding the shining 70's fake armors), Emerald Forest deepens philosophy and ethnology. Very profound and touching, very good acting, excellent photography, technically superb, there's nothing to really complain about. It hasn't aged at all and probably won't. I gave it a 10 because I do not see anything to improve. In our sad new era of ethnological destruction, where there's no place anymore for the Aborigene or any other tribal culture, this movie gives a little hope, a little reverie of seeing things turning in the right direction thanks to ancient magic. How vain but how beautiful!
Touching, well-paced, sad, uplifting, absorbing. Good acting, good writing. Lots of meaning, lots of symbolism, but never in your face, never tiring. Mystical stuff that's presented well and believably. A movie at once so ambitious and so real and so well-done...there just aren't very many in its league. Action, love, adventure, drama, striking images, succinct dialog. Amazing.
Not sure that you'll get a comment from anyone of my generation (the
Depression-ridden 30's) about the Emerald Forest. But here goes,
I first became aware of the term "ecology" when I signed up for a masters-level college class of the same name in 1965. It was the first formalization of the study of ecology on the West Coast. I took it simply because I needed a natural science credit and all the other classes were full. The class changed my life, and my perspectives. I devoured Rachel Carson, and savored movies like Dances With Wolves and Medicine Man. I even joined Green Peace at the age of 32 and suspect that I am probably the only Republican in history that can make that claim.
I would vote that Emerald Forest is the best of all popular eco-message dramas. It is my all time favorite. It is so well done in every area...script, acting, photography, and re-enactment of tribal customs. At the same time, it delivers a powerful message that can only be dismissed by the most callous of personalities. Every time I see the movie I am filled with regret that I could never accomplish such a landmark cinematographic ecological statement.
I was also filled with the emotion to go to Brazil and blow away anyone with a chainsaw...
This movie supposedly sends an environmental message, and that's
certainly true, but if you look closely it's really a fig leaf (like
one of those little flaps on a string that constitute the sole bit of
clothing worn by the villagers) for an updated Tarzan movie.
That said, this movie is tremendous entertainment. It is exciting almost all the way through. And when it's slow, there are lots of cute teenage girls in the altogether to gaze at. In fact, there's a demographically striking abundance of teenage girls in this particular tribe.
Favorite scene: During the courtship ritual, Tomme is given a club and is supposed "knock out" his girl in front of the villagers and then carry her off into the forest. She cowers. He hesitates, waves the club around. She glares at him and whispers, "Do it right!" So he hits her and she makes a show of being "knocked out." The whole courtship ritual is beautifully staged. I cannot attest to its authenticity, but it's perfectly clear as he "defends" her from menacing dudes, refuses to be carried off by the other girls, etc. The sheer enthusiasm portrayed is remarkable.
Powers Boothe, playing a dam engineer, makes a dashing Trader Horn-type. He has a great scene when he wakes up in the village only to see his son, Tomme, sleeping peaceful and embracing his girl, both practically nude in the next hammock. The expressions that run across his face are priceless.
The Fierce People live up to their name, but I am dubious that people who live in nature can be so infected with violence.
I learned something. You can climb a high-rise by wrapping vines around your feet. Who knew? The dam business at the end was totally righteous, but, really, pretty preposterous.
And how about that shot of the eagle in flight. Taken from about two feet away. Pretty neat.
Terrific Hollywood movie? You bet. Werner Herzog? Not so much.
The Emerald Forest is, without a doubt, one of my favorite movies of all time. I first saw it many years ago, but rediscovered it recently when it showed up on one of my Dish movie channels. The son of an engineer is kidnapped in the rain forest. The engineer (Powers Booth) discovers him years later, when he is a teenager. By then, the son is part of a tribe which has raised him and molded him into a man. He does not want to leave. However, the boy must find and request the help of his father when a rival tribe kills several male members of his tribe members and kidnaps their women. A great (true) story, wonderful acting, and amazing cinematography make this movie an amazing viewing experience. Think Apocalypto without all of the blood and violence. There is a good amount of female nudity. If you enjoy this movie, I also recommend Rapa Nui for it's great scenery and story.
The Emerald Forest is an excellent jungle adventure which is based on a true
A young boy is kidnapped by a tribe in the Amazon known as the Invisible People. His dad (Powers Boothe) then spends 10 years searching for him and eventually succeeds, but only by chance. He decides to stay with the tribe rather than go back to his original family.
Boothe's son when grown up is played by the director's son, Charley Boorman and does a great job playing the part. This movie gives you an idea on what it would be like living in the Amazon. Excellent scenery makes the movie better still. It was shot on location in the Amazon.
I have seen this movie a couple of times and enjoyed very much. Watch it if you get the chance.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have been after this movie for years. If you like learning about other cultures, predominantly Indian tribes, or if are an environmentalist or ecologist, you will love the movie. Also, any parent will feel for the main characters. It is truly touching how the family never gives up looking for their lost son, and risk everything for that cause. It is true that the ending is unexpected, but it shows the intentions of the father were to give up his dream to give his son and new life a chance to survive in the Amazon. There is light nudity for the children, but it is convincingly part of the story line. I will share this movie with my eleven year old environmentalist as soon as I can get it.
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