The Emerald Forest
|The Emerald Forest|
|Directed by||John Boorman|
|Produced by||John Boorman
|Written by||Rospo Pallenberg|
|Music by||Brian Gascoigne
|Distributed by||Embassy Pictures|
|Release date(s)||July 5, 1985|
|Running time||110 minutes|
|Language||English, Portuguese, native Amazonian languages|
The Emerald Forest is a 1985 English language British film set in the Brazilian Rainforest. It was directed by John Boorman and written by Rospo Pallenberg. It is based on a true story. The film was screened out of competition at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival.
Plot summary 
Bill Markham is an engineer who has moved to Brazil with his family to complete the construction of a large hydro-electric dam. The construction requires large areas of forest to be cleared, even more to be flooded. Its completion will bring more people to the areas who will clear the jungle for agriculture and living space.
Markham takes his family to the edge of the forest for a picnic to show them the jungle. It is then that an Indian from one of the indigenous tribes known as the Invisible People notices his son, Tommy, aged seven, has bright green eyes the colour of the forest. The tribesman decides that it is unfair to leave the child with these strange people, who, in his opinion, are destroying the world. He abducts the child. Markham pursues them, but his son is gone.
The story jumps ahead some ten years. The dam is nearing completion. Tommy, or Tommé as he is now called, has become part of the tribe that he lives with, adopting their language, culture and way of life. His father finds him but discovers that he is not the son he once had.
Tommé's tribe is later threatened by another tribe, as well as by the nearly completed dam. Markham decides to help his son so that the way of life he has adopted is not destroyed.
- Powers Boothe - Bill Markham
- Meg Foster - Jean Markham
- Yara Vaneau - Young Heather Markham
- William Rodriguez - Young Tommy Markham
- Ruy Polanah - Chief Wanadi
- Charley Boorman - Tomme (Tommy Markham as member of the Invisible People tribe)
- Dira Paes - Kachiri
- Eduardo Conde - Werner
- Ariel Coelho - Padre Leduc
- Peter Marinker - Perreira
- Mario Borges - Costa
- Átila Iório - Trader
- Gabriel Archanjo - Trader's Henchman
- Gracindo Júnior - Carlos
- Arthur Muhlenberg - Rico
- Estee Chandler - Heather Markham
The film is clearly motivated by the destruction of the rainforest, but apart from the impact on the environment and the local wildlife, it examines the fact that a way of living which was natural to human beings for many thousands of years is also being destroyed. Scenes exploring the culture and spiritual beliefs of the tribespeople give the viewer an idea of how South American people lived in the times before widespread colonisation.
Rotten Tomatoes gave it an 87% rating, out of 13 reviews. The Emerald Forest was designated a Critic's Pick by the reviewers of the New York Times. It was nominated for 3 BAFTA Awards, for Cinematography, Make Up, and Score.
The film was promoted as "based on a true story". Critic Harlan Ellison in his book Harlan Ellison's Watching wrote that attempts by the SCAN library reference/research company to get background information on the real story revealed that Rospo Pallenberg's original screenplay was based on several stories, including an article in the Los Angeles Times about a Peruvian laborer whose child had been abducted by a local Indian tribe and located sixteen years later almost fully assimilated. Pallenberg's agent told SCAN that while Boorman claimed to have read the original Times article, he hadn't, but was simply working from Pallenberg's screenplay. According to SCAN, Boorman told NPR's All Things Considered that the son was still living with the tribe in 1985 and identified the tribe as "the Mayoruna", yet detailed anthropological studies of that tribe do not mention an adopted outsider.
However, a contemporaneous January 1985 review in Variety magazine states up front that the movie is "[b]ased on an uncredited true story about a Peruvian whose son disappeared in the jungles of Brazil." This fact demonstrates that the source of the film script was known at the time of release. The Los Angeles Times article also mentioned that the Peruvian child had at the time decided to stay with the tribe.
Another potential source for The Emerald Forest is the book, Wizard of the Upper Amazon, by F. Bruce Lamb. The story is a second hand account of Manuel Cordova's kidnapping when he was a teenager working for rubber cutters in the Amazon in the early 1900s. He was taken by a group of Indians to a very remote, primitive Indian village. These Indians were of a fierce independent disposition, and had fled into the interior because they refused to exist in the subservient situation imposed on them by the rubber barons of that time. Cordova was incorporated into their tribe and describes a life strikingly similar to the one depicted in The Emerald Forest.
See also 
- "Festival de Cannes: The Emerald Forest". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-07-08.
- Ellison, Harlan, Harlan Ellison's Watching (Underwood, 1989), pp. 407-409.
- Leonard Greenwood, "Long Hunt For Son Ends In Success, But --" In the Los Angeles Times, October 8, 1972, section F, p. 10. Reprinted at http://www.nativeamericanfilms.org/ef-truestory.html, website accessed Jan 03, 2010.
- The Emerald Forest by Variety Staff (accessed Nov 13, 2009)
Further reading 
- Holdstock, Robert (1985). John Boorman's the Emerald Forest. New York Zoetrope. ISBN 978-0-918432-70-4.
- Listen to John Boorman discussing The Emerald Forest - a British Library recording.
- The Emerald Forest at the Internet Movie Database
- The Emerald Forest at Box Office Mojo
Category:Films shot in Rio de Janeiro