In early 18th century Peru an old Inca rope bridge collapses, plunging five travelers to their deaths in the Andean chasm below. Brother Juniper, who was within minutes of being on the bridge himself, becomes obsessed with discovering how five people of differing class and circumstances came to be on the bridge at that moment. The Catholic friar wants to know if it was mere existential happenstance or part of God's cosmic plan. After researching the lives of the victims for five years and publishing his findings in a book, he is accused of heresy by the worldly Archbishop of Lima and is put on trial for his life by the Inquisition.Written by
A cast of Oscar winners, based on a novel by Thornton Wilder...how could one go wrong? For starters, a script that sounded like gibberish had the actors spouting pages of dialog that sounded like they'd learned it phonetically.
Second, DeNiro must have done this because he needs the money, not because the work appealed to him. Even if he hadn't been phoning it in, his performance brought to mind that of Tony Curtis in Sparticus, "I yam a sing-ger of sawngs." Couldn't Oscar winner DeNiro spring for a few diction lessons to get rid of the accent? Harvey Keitel manage to suppress his accent more successfully, but whose idea was it to cast a couple of New York tough guy types as Peruvians?
This movie had potential, but it looked as if they put a reasonable sized production budget in the hands of people who became producers after successful careers in costume design and art direction. The costumes are beautiful and the film is handsomely shot. Unfortunately, they neglected to hire a screenwriter who could make sense of Wilder's very complex novel. The writer was just not up to the job. Maybe they ran out of money after all the beautiful sets and costumes had been assembled and just decided to have somebody's assistant crank out a script.
What a mess.
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