The Emerald Forest (Boorman, 1985)-aNaRCHo (FILM IS IN ENGLISH & NATIVE DIALECT, FRENCH, SPANISH & ENGLISH SUBTITLES INCLUDED)
John Boorman is one of my favourite directors, his Epic Adventure Films (The Emerald Forest & Beyond Rangoon) are rarely equalled in their stunning cinematography, moving stories, action packed adventure and political commentary. Boorman is probably the greatest director to come out of the UK other than Kubrick (and maybe Peter Watkins, depending on what you look for in cinema).
The Emerald Forest is an epic adventure set in the Brazilian Rainforest and based on an incredible and almost unbelievable True Story.
The film begins in modern day "developed" Brazil, as we follow Bill Markham (played by the wonderful Powers Boothe), an engineer working for land developers who are quickly destroying and developing Rainforest lands with plans to build a large dam that will flood part of the forest. Ignorant of the affect they are having on the forest and aboriginal people's living sustainable subsistence lives within it, the development begins to encroach onto the traditional lands of "The Invisible People", whom are known to paint themselves with the pigment of a sacred green stone which renders them invisible as they move covertly through the forest.
The story begins when Markham brings his wife and son to the development site in order to show off the work he is doing as a means to fuel his pride/ego. While having a conversation with his wife, his son Thomme thinks he sees something and runs to the edge of the forest to have a look. Unbeknownst to any of them, the Invisible People are sitting along what they call, "The Edge of the World" (the edge of the forest) where they are observing "The Termites" (construction workers/equipment/crews) who are responsible for desertifying the forest.
"How is the world supposed to breathe without any skin?", they say, commenting on the destruction of the forest- their world- and evoking the viewer to ponder on the global impact of such devastating actions.
When young Thomme runs into the forest to look for what he saw, he runs into the Elder Chief of the Invisible People, who decides to grab the boy and take them back to their village, where they will raise him as one of their own. By the time Markham and his wife realize their son is missing it is too late, he runs into the forest to look for him, but is held back as one of the aboriginals shoots an arrow at him...the only clue as to who took his son.
Here the storyline splits in two and we find ourselves following the begining of Boothe's character's 10 year journey, as he seeks answers and a plan of action to find out who took his son, and how to get him back. Armed with the arrow- his only clue- he heads to the Universities, seeking out an anthropologist that may know which Tribe of peoples were responsible for crafting such an arrow.
He discovers that it was fashioned by an isolated tribal people known as "The Invisible People", who have never been seen or contacted by civilization, and whose existence is known only through tales. This is enough of a lead for Markham, who is hell-bent on getting his son back...he heads into the the forest to look for him.
Subsequently, we follow Thomme- who is now slightly aged, has basically forgotten most of his past and has adopted the culture of the Invisible People. We see how he has been adopted as the son and heir of the Tribal Elder- Kachiri- and has grown up to be an 'alpha male' type in their kinship system. As the story progresses, we watch as Thomme is initiated into manhood, falls in love and gets married, and is sent on the archetypal "Quest", which will ultimately determine the future existence of The Invisible People.
As a result of being under threat from the encroachment of modern civilization, the Invisible People have been relegated to the same lands as their forest-enemies, a dark Cannibalistic tribe, who are constantly harassing and attacking them. The tribe is running out of the magical paint which renders them invisible in the forest to the rest of the world. As such, Kachiri sends Thomme on a mission to retrieve the magical stones- from which the paint is derived- from the Sacred Spring.
While searching for the Sacred Spring Thomme is ambushed and chased by a group of Cannibals. He is chased to a small waterfall (which turns out to be the Sacred Spring) and is saved by Fate. Markham, his true father, who has been wandering the forest in search of his son for several years happens to be at the bottom of the waterfall. He shoots his rifle at the Cannibals when he sees the boy is in trouble. As they approach each other, Markham realizes that it is his son!!! THEY RUN INTO EACH OTHER IN THE MIDDLE OF THE AMAZON (and yes, this apparently really did happen in real life!!!)!
Markham's journey, which nearly kills him and drives him to the brink of insanity, is not in vain. He finds his son, who decides to bring him back to their village and nurse him back to health. Angry at first, Markham quickly develops an understanding and appreciation for Kachiri and his people. He begins to recognize the importance and value of the forest and their way of live, and realizes that he is responsible for the strain on their culture, the destruction of their land, and if things progress and the dam is put into operation, that he will be responsible for their genocide. When Boothe's character comes to this realization it makes us all, as viewers, question the value and sustainability of our own ways of life....that there is blood on all our hands.
At this point, an unexpected turn takes place (think Buster Keaton's 'The General', the classical confrontation on the home stretch). The development has destroyed the lands of the Cannibalistic tribe who have now been exposed to the modern world. The construction workers living in shanty towns convince the Cannibals to go into the forest, kidnap women from the other, less aggressive tribes, and trade them into prostitution in return for firearms, ammunition and alcohol. The Cannibal's, now drunk and armed to the teeth, raid the village of the Invisible People, kill many of the men and kidnap all the women.
As Karichi lay dying, Thomme- motivated by revenge- and Markham- riddled with guilt, and seeking to save the people who raised his son and whom he has grown to love- set out with the remaining men of the village to get their women back!!! What ensues is a battle between forest cunning and brute force- with the existence of the Invisible People at risk.
Eventually, after having found his son, having had a spiritual awakening and a complete change of heart, Markham returns to civilization where he finds himself asking the question of whether to go on with what he was doing- now knowing what he knows, and having experienced what he experienced- or to do something to stop it from progressing any further. Let's just say, the film goes out with a bang.
Boorman's "The Emerald Forest" is an underrated and often overlooked epic masterpiece that cannot be missed. From the action-packed adventure to the stunning jungle cinematography; with the archetypal Quest and the truth behind the story; the great acting; and activist driven statement which cannot be ignored....this is ONE OF THE BEST FILMS YOU WILL EVER SEE. 10 out of 10.
PLEASE SEED AND ENJOY!!!
Sep 15, 2010, 19:28:12
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