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Martin and Hazel Quarrier are small-town fundamentalist missionaries sent to the jungles of South America to convert the Indians. Their remote mission was previously run by the Catholics, before the natives murdered them all. They are sent by the pompous Leslie Huben, who runs the missionary effort in the area but who seems more concerned about competing with his Catholic 'rivals' than in the Indians themselves. Hazel is terrified of the Indians while Martin is fascinated. Soon American pilot Lewis Moon joins the Indian tribe but is attracted by Leslie's young wife, Andy. Can the interaction of these characters and cultures, and the advancing bulldozers of civilization, avoid disaster? Written by
Producer Saul Zaentz first tried to make this film in 1965, only to find that MGM owned the rights. He kept trying to buy them every time there was an administrative change at MGM up until 1989 when new studio heads Jay Kanter and Alan Ladd Jr decided that MGM would not be making the film. Zaentz still had to pay $1.4 million for the rights. See more »
This is a thought provoking story of missionaries in the Amazon jungle trying to "civilize" a wild tribe before the local authorities exterminate them, either pacify them by making them Christians or we will kill them. I found it to be very, very believable. There should be no missionaries going abroad such as Hazel, who refused to learn Portuguese because she thought it was a "Catholic language". Where she came up with that concept is really beyond me. What is wrong with being Catholic? Denominationalism does not add anything to Christianity, it just divides people. The raw reality of the movie annoyed me when I first watched it, but since we have the tape and have watched it a few times, I came to the realization that the reason it annoyed me was because it depicted the attitude of superiority that many missionaries and those who call themselves Christians carry. I somehow think that in the midst of their attitude of judgmentalism, stubborness, and their inability to listen to the truth they have missed Christianity in its entirety. They have become too legalistic and keep finding reasons to excuse their own poor behavior, not to say their lack of compassion and love. "Leslie Huben" John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun) is indeed an outstanding actor. He is so different in this part than he is in 3rd Rock part. I thought that Leslie used all his Bible knowledge to judge others, except himself. He thought he was indeed better than everybody else.
Tom Berenger (Platoon) "Lewis Moon" is a very confused Cheyenne. He was the product of a Christian Mission and was being used as an example by being the first Cheyenne to go to college. He later rebeled against this and eventually became a mercenary. His one goal was to find real wild Indians. Once he found the Niaruna, they thought he was a god and adopted him. He accidently gave the tribe Influenza at the same time he was trying to unite the various tribes in the area to drive the white man away.
The other Protestants, thinking themselves better than the Catholics, "the Opposition", were trying to make the Indians "rice Christians" by infecting them with a taste for beads and machetes to get them to listen to the Gospel. I fail to see how making people materialistic will transform their hearts.
"Andy Huben" Daryl Hannah is one my favorite characters in the movie. She is sincere in her beliefs and has more compassion than all of them together. The other character that has redeeming values is "Martin Quarrier" Aidan Quinn (Practical Magic), who was more of an anthropologist than a missionary and eventually lost his life trying to help the Indians.
The missionary with a largest heart and mission was the little boy, Billy, who accepted the Indians for what they were and had no bias at all. We all have much to learn from the little children.
I recommend this movie to everybody because it depicts many topics really well. I especially recommend it for Christians and even more so for the fundamentalists because it is a slap in their face by showing them how stupid they can be. And by the way, what does God and Christ have anything to do with that!!!!??? I was just wondering!
Favorite Quotes: Moon: "Do you have faith in the Lord? Did you earn your faith or were you stuffed with it like a big turkey?"; "If the Lord made the Indians the way they are why are you trying to change them." Martin Quarrier: "I am calling you coward!" Moon: "You will get tired of it after awhile."
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