AT PLAY IN THE FIELDS OF THE LORD
DIRECTOR: HECTOR BABENCO
CAST: Tom Berenger, John Lithgow, Daryl Hannah, Aiden Quinn, Tom Waits, Kathy Bates.
MUSIC: Zbigniew Preisner
SCREENPLAY: Peter Mathissen
WRITTEN: Hector Babenco and Jean Claude Carriere.
ONE WORD: The Amazon, of course.
As I have mentioned before, I am not a great fan of films about the Amazon because they usually end up setting up the next area for commercial development in an area where it must all stop, before it is too late.
But aside from an over bearing set of circumstances, and performances which I do not care for too much, this film becomes a symbolic puzzle of meaning which doesn't really help the whole situation. It is well written, but somehow, it didn't come across, and part of that may just be because John Lithgow may not have had the time to study his part, and do a better job. He comes off foppish too many times, which is something I never saw in anyone in Mato Grosso except American tourists when they saw a harmless animal
spring from the jungle into its home in a hole on the ground. Then it was the end of the world, and all emotional....get the guns....
This film has a violent edge to it, which is more reminiscent of the directing of Hector Babenco, than it is of the natural violence in the jungle and its life, where the strong survive, and the weak get eaten by the animals or Indians. And the violence that is hurting it all is the idealistic notions which the outsiders have from the priest ( Lithgow ) to the explorer and
businessman ( Berenger ), whose lives are in danger because of their actions.
Hector Babenco first entered the scene of international film maker with a film called PIXOTE which was about a child 'cangaceiro' or the Brazilian equivalent of outlaw, and fearless bandit, in this case a child. The title roughly translates into 'little bastard' or 'little animal' , which the character certainly is. And in this film about the survival in the jungle amidst very difficult circumstances, all of these characters could at any time get taken in by the jungle, and disappear completely.
This is a film which is extremely visual, and spends much time exploring the raw sights in the area, and the beauty of this virgin territory, with its amazing floral arrangements, and fauna. Opposite all this are the human species who create their villages wherever they want, regardless of the Indians respect for a special place or two where their ancestors could be buried. And sooner or later, the outsiders will pay the price. The Indians are excellent hunters and stalkers. The western man is very good at complaining and not surviving.
GOOD FILM. VERY LONG, HYPNOTIC, AND SLOW. EXTREMELY BEAUTIFUL PHOTOGRAPHY. COLORFUL IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD.
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