Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
United Kingdom, 1986. Warner Bros., Goldcrest Films International, Kingsmere Productions Ltd., Enigma Productions, AMLF. Story and screenplay by Robert Bolt. Cinematography by Chris Menges. Produced by Fernando Ghia, David Puttnam. Music by Ennio Morricone. Production Design by Stuart Craig. Costume Design by Enrico Sabbatini. Film Editing by Jim Clark. Academy Awards 1986. Cannes Film Festival 1986. Golden Globe Awards 1986. National Board of Review Awards 1986. New York Film Critics Awards 1986.
Roland Joffe followed The Killing Fields with this good but less impressive film set in the remote jungles of Brazil. Jeremy Irons plays a priest who travels to this supposedly ‘uncivilized’ part of the world to bring Christ to the natives, and comes upon a Portuguese slaver (Robert De Niro) who wants to commit suicide after having killed his brother in a rage. Irons convinces De Niro not to throw his life away but dedicate it to the church, and De Niro becomes so penitent that he decides to become a priest and help Irons in his work with the people. When the Portuguese take control over the land again, however, De Niro decides to lead the locals in a violent revolt against the slave traders while Irons tries to encourage a peaceful resolution. Beautifully photographed and lushly scored by Ennio Morricone, the film’s story sounds a lot better than it plays out, and some viewers might find it a deadly bore. The acting is excellent, however, and the locations irresistible to anyone curious enough. This was the last feature film script written by the great Robert Bolt, who won Academy Awards for Doctor Zhivago and A Man For All Seasons.