Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 1991. The Saul Zaentz Company. Screenplay by Jean-Claude Carriere, Hector Babenco, based on the novel by Peter Matthiessen. Cinematography by Lauro Escorel. Produced by Saul Zaentz. Music by Zbigniew Preisner. Production Design by Clovis Bueno. Costume Design by Aggie Guerard Rodgers, Rita Murtinho. Film Editing by William M. Anderson, Armen Minasian. Golden Globe Awards 1991.
This adaptation of the novel by Peter Matthiessen is epic on length but not substance. Members of the large cast include Tom Berenger as a pilot who crash lands in the middle of the Amazon and ends up adapting himself into a Native tribe; Aidan Quinn and Kathy Bates are missionaries deeply affected by the Natives they are there to minister to, the same ones who murdered the previous church leaders that lived there; John Lithgow and Daryl Hannah are rival Catholic missionaries who also have a deep effect on the primitive civilization that surrounds them. It makes for intellectual viewing, but it’s also cold, calculated and totally shallow. Bates is excellent, particularly when her fear of this foreign culture drives her to the point of madness.