The Emerald Forest (1985)

Though this film's plot borders on the ridiculous, it is still well worth watching for it's message. It is a little preachy though, so you'll have to set these to things aside in order to enjoy it.

An American family moves to Brazil near the mouth of the Amazon. The father is an engineer given the task of building a hydro-electric dam that will greatly affect the environment around it. Their six-year-old son is snatched from the forest by a tribe called "the Invisible People" while on a family picnic.

Ten years elapse and bring us to the two worlds: the father with his dam near completion while still seeking for his son and the son having matured into a young man among a tribe that has had no contact with westerners. The contrasts are stark and make the film.

The father and son are soon reunited as the son saves his father's life from some savage tribe bent on destruction. Life is idyllic among the Invisibles: hunting, sleeping in hammocks, lots of topless women, drugs, and swimming in the river. The son has to make a decision as to whether to return to civilization or stay with his native family where he is a man with a woman and is comfortable with the traditions he has learned.

The ridiculous in the film is the plot twists - completely unbelievable and about as cliché as you can get. But what makes it bearable is the setting and realistic innocence with which this outrageous story is told. Also disappointing is the use of a very weak pidgeon English/Portuguese for the untouched tribe (how on earth could the father have been able to speak the language of this tribe if it had never made contact with the white folks?).

Also disappointing is the claim that this is based on a true story. It isn't. The true story has almost nothing in common with the movie (no Americans, no savage tribe, no dramatic rescue or supernatural intervention at the end).

The message is clear: We are destroying the rainforest. The rainforest is beautiful. Let's stop destroying the rainforest. I can accept that.


No comments: