THE EMERALD FOREST
DIRECTOR: JOHN BOORMAN
USA 1985
CINEMATOGRAPHY: PHILIPPE ROUSSELOT
MUSIC: JUNIOR HOMRICH & BRIAN GASCOIGNE
WRITTEN BY: ROSPO POLLENBERG
CAST: Powers Boothe, Charley Boorman, Meg Foster, Rui Polonak, Feiche Agbayan, Eduardo Conde, Ester Chandler
ONE WORD: The Amazon forest.


Amazon films, to me, are always sad. Maybe it is the advent of civilization that is destroying it, and creating an environment that is dangerous for the cultivation of this land and its future. While civilization has its needs, and absolving the planet is one of them, the one thing that it has no respect for is the forest's own needs, and its role in the scheme of things regarding the livelihood of this planet.

The Emerald Forest, is a really beautifully done, piece of work that tries to provide an answer to what needs to be done, or may have to happen. The ultimate question, is, is it enough.?

The child of a developer disappears in an area where the forest is being torn down for many new buildings and cities. And the story is really about finding out what happens to this child. But, this reviewer might have wished to see something more from the "other" point of view, rather than what we get. Two other films come to mind, a Finnish one called AMAZON, that is very similar to this one, and another less known film, WHERE THE RIVER RUNS BLACK, which is totaly inside the jungle, and provides little hope as growth
outside of it.

The child has become a part of a tribe, and its ways. He is now in his teens and is learning the hardships that each tribe has. The worst of them, is the same attitude towards destruction as the fast moving land barons destroying the forest. One is given the feeling that these tribes are at odds with each other because they are being forced closer to each other, and their differences come to light. And as this happens, they fight, and destroy each other.

But, the Emerald Forest does a little more than most of the films do. It takes on, the view of the shaman, and the style which is forever leaving our spirits. It tries to show us how some of these tribes live, and how they learn. And how they survive with the aid of a special leader, one who can see and lead them.

The kidnapped child, is a bit of a savior for the new tribe, and perhaps the fact that he is a westerner at the start may add a slight hope to the tribe, and may aid in its quest not to get destroyed and attacked by the invading land barons. But at the same time, what this tribe is gaining, is something that another tribe is lacking.

The child is now a man, and has met his mate. And no sooner than this happens, he meets his own father, who has been trying to find him for ten years. The obviously distraught father and family, want their son back, but the son has grown enough to make his own decisions.... and now the son has become a bit of a leader, since the last attack, and he is expected to take on the role of supporter and main provider for the new generation of the tribe.

What starts out as a film that seems to have little direction, quickly turns into an experience, that just draws you in, and you have no idea how to escape. It is easy to sympathize with the family, and their loss of a child. But we immediately become attached to out ancestors and their styles of living. And towards the end we are forced to accept a compromise that is immediately scary, but hopeful, the most hopeful that things can probably get despite its terrible odds.

Really, an excellent film, rich in color and beauty beyond belief, this film was not accepted as the great thing that it could have been. But several years later, this film is still good, standing out time very well, and looking much richer than it did when I first saw it.

It's hard to fault the acting work. The Indians are fascinating in their own way, and the camera tries hard to stay with many of them and their very elusive movements. But it is nicely done, and blended in. Aside from the film restrictions on the obvious nudity and naturalness which the indigenous people have, this film is excellent, and should have deserved a better response. It is a shame to find it in a shelf, amidst many other meaningless titles.... a freak that few will catch. It deserves better. The director did well, very well, in what appears to have been a project that had other plights in mind at the start... one just gets that feeling.

4 GIBLOONS

 

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