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Where the River Runs Black (1986)

An orphaned boy who was raised in the Amazon jungle is brought back to civilization by a priest who knows his father.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Father O'Reilly
Alessandro Rabelo ...
Divana Brandão ...
Eagle Woman
Father Mahoney
Orlando Santos
Mother Marta
Sister Ana
Raimundo (as Chico Diaz)
Marcelo Rabelo ...
Lazaro - 4 Years Old
Ariel Coelho ...
Paulo Sergio Oliveira ...
Mario Borges ...
Brother Carlos
François Thijm ...
Geraldo Salles ...
Priest in Confessional


Father O'Reilly, an older priest, tells the story of Father Mahoney, Eagle Woman, and their son Lazaro. It's magic realism in the Amazon. Mahoney is a radical priest who ventures upstream where the river runs black. He encounters the beautiful and enchanting Eagle Woman, who can change from a dolphin to a woman. A few years later, their child Lazaro witnesses inter-loping gold prospectors commit a brutal and traumatizing murder. He goes to the city in Father O'Reilly's care, and there he sees the murderer, who's a politician. Lazaro seeks revenge, which puts him in further danger. He runs back into the jungle, where the dolphins may be his best hope for help. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

priest | dolphin | jungle | river | revenge | See All (12) »


Deep in the Amazon, a woman more beautiful than a vision gave birth to a child of mystery... and a legend began.




PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

19 September 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lazaro  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$676,166 (USA)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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User Reviews

A fascinating film
28 January 2006 | by (Dundee, Scotland) – See all my reviews

This is a very touching film, which has always fascinated me as I do have an interest in feral children. The film, based on David Kendall's novel 'Lazaro', revolves around young Lazaro, a child raised deep in the Amazonian jungle by his mother following the death of his priest father before he was born. Mother and son live a happy, idyllic life until gold-hunters enter their territory and end up murdering Lazaro's mother. Left to fend for himself, he is then taken in by the dolphins who live in the river and protect their human charge from predators as they would their own calves. Some years later, when Lazaro is about ten or so, he is then found and brought to the city where his father's mentor vows to care for him and make him civilised. But Lazaro is more intent in revenge when he sees the man who killed his mother...

The acting from Alessandro Rabelo, who plays Lazaro, and Ajay Naidu, who was cast in the role of Lazaro's best friend, was excellent. You can't help but grow attached to the boys and care for their plight. Charles Durning also gave a masterful performance as the priest who just wanted to do right by Lazaro; he had such a rapport with young Rabelo, leaving the audience convinced of the growing bond between the two. The haunting music only adds to the sense of mysticism and spirituality conjured up by the storyline of the film.

'Where the River Runs Black' really is a one of a kind and I highly recommend it to anyone just looking for something that bit different. It touches many issues, from the plight of rescuing feral children (is there a point where they should just be left alone?) to whether we have a right to seek vengeance when we are wronged to environmental issues (the cutting down of the rain forests). It's a film that stays with you forever.

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