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At Play in the Fields of the Lord [VHS] (1991)

Tom Berenger , John Lithgow , Hector Babenco  |  R |  VHS Tape
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)

Price: $39.75
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Product Details

  • Actors: Tom Berenger, John Lithgow, Daryl Hannah, Aidan Quinn, Tom Waits
  • Directors: Hector Babenco
  • Writers: Hector Babenco, Jean-Claude Carrière, Peter Matthiessen
  • Producers: David Nichols, Francisco Ramalho Jr., Paul Zaentz, Saul Zaentz
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Number of tapes: 2
  • Studio: Universal Studios Ho
  • VHS Release Date: May 5, 1993
  • Run Time: 189 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302359848
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,932 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A cautionary epic adventure filmed on location in the rainforest jungles of Brazil. This exquisitely photographed drama about tests of faith and cultural interference puts the fate of an entire native Indian tribe in the hands of a few American missionaries. Tom Berenger stars as a Cheyenne-American mercenary who decides to join the isolated tribe he has been ordered to destroy. With John Lithgow, Aidan Quinn, Kathy Bates, Daryl Hannah and Tom Waits. Based on the novel by Peter Matthiessen. Hector Babenco---USA---1991---186 mins.


Missionaries travel to the Brazilian rain forest and make a mess of everything. What else is new? Actually, plenty in this dark but beautifully realized adaptation of Peter Matthiessen's well-regarded novel, directed by Hector Babenco. Aidan Quinn, Daryl Hannah, Kathy Bates, and John Lithgow play the Americans who travel to the Brazilian interior in an effort to do some good. But their definitions of good vary wildly; Bates and Lithgow are old-fashioned puritans who want to convert the heathens to Christianity and remove all traces of their own culture. Quinn and Hannah are more spiritually minded, hoping to make a connection and a cultural exchange with the Indians they encounter. In the end, they're all delusional, trapped in their own preconceptions. Downbeat but magical in its way, with sterling performances all around and amazing scenery, to say the least. --Marshall Fine

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
111 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visually stunning epic June 15, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Hector Babenco and Saul Zaentz have constructed a beautiful adaptation of Peter Matthiessen's novel of the same name. The american actors used are magnificent with the exception of Tom Waits who looks the part but doesn't quite get it right - this is especially evident when he is speaking to Moon over the radio. The native amazonians used are the real deal - Babenco recruited at least 10 different tribes to serve as actors and this authenticity really shows. The rituals performed are highly authentic esp. the use of epene snuff and ayahuasca. The communal housing for the tribe is wonderfully filmed - you feel as if you are really there with the sounds of the instruments and the smell of foods.
I was really pleased with how well the movie stays true to the novel of course some parts are omitted - especially alot in the town of Mae de Deus but then again that would have made this a six hour flick.
A word of caution for those who have not seen this before - This film portrays the indigenous people accurately - there is alot and I mean alot of nudity - if you aren't able to handle other cultures that don't have the hang-ups over nudity as we do (and live in a sweltering jungle of 100+ degrees and 100% humidity) then by all means see this. This is not child porn as some others hint at it being - this is a film of people (these are the real natives) at one with nature and the havoc that is created when the modern world is forced on them, a real morality play, truly sad. I made this movie a must see for my teenage daughters and it is one of my favorite films and novels of all time - a true masterpiece, I rank it right up there with Bergman's "The Seventh Seal".
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68 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WHERE IS THE DVD? April 16, 2005
Format:VHS Tape
This great film has been extensively reviewed on this website and for good reason--perfect casting, terrific acting, gripping story, intelligent dialogue, superior production. What more can you ask for?

The DVD has been 'hinted at' for well over a year. WHERE IS IT? How can a film this great not have a DVD release, ESPECIALLY WHEN this website has been indicating for a VERY long time that it will be out on DVD?

Kathy Bates as the wife of a missionary who goes loco (that is, she does, not the missionary). Darryl Hannah as another wife of a missionary who's more than intrigued by the native Amazon culture--in particular when she's approached by Tom Berenger, former small craft pilot, who's undergone a startling transformation. Even Tom Waits in a small part is great. John Lithgow and Aidan Quinn as the two missionaries supply the right chemistry to exacerbate the tension that drives this story with a momentum that does not let up.

This is a near-perfect film. SO WHERE IS THE DVD?
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A journey worth taking. September 26, 2005
Format:VHS Tape
I originally saw this film when it was first released and it stuck with me. I recently saw it for the second time and it was better. The film is so sad but riveting when misguided missionaries head into the Amazon jungle to Christianize the native tribes. This story has been played out around the world for centuries and it's probably still going on with fundamentalist religious fanatics who feel the need to change others by destroying their cultures. In some ways, it's a fantasy theme of opportunities and possibilities being demonized by the personalities who created them. Christianity is a great message but it's terribly abused by the few who create such hate and leave such damage in it's name.

This is a fine film that takes you on a journey into the jungles of South America. It's so realistic that you feel you are there with them. A journey worth taking.

A fine cast actors: Tom Berenger, Aidan Quinn, John Lythgow, Kathy Bates and Daryl Hannah supported by a group of Amazonian tribes. Of course the great scenery of Amazonia itself is a major and a magnificent character.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Viewer Discretion Required!!! December 9, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
Do not watch this movie if you are looking for entertainment that a regular movie usually provides. Let me warn you- this movie has no romantic themes which make people want to slip into the characters and enter a dreamy world neither does it have any dramatic action sequence where the `bad guy' finally gets killed and you are left with the feeling that the world is once more `safe'. This is a movie about conflicts rising up from cultural differences and the consequences they might finally lead to. This is a movie that shows obvious sides of human life but it will make you really uncomfortable.

Leslie Huben (John Lithgow) a missionary head who believes he can share the greater glory of God by converting the Niaruna Indians into Christians. As a result of his religious hypocrisy, he is far away from winning the trust of the Indians. Instead he ends up losing the trust of his own wife. On the other hand Lewis Moon (Tom Berenger), a half-breed Indian, leaves all his western attachments and attempts to become one of the tribe members. For the Niaruna Indians the strange people that encroach upon their land become a threat to their own existence. Although Moon learns to speak and look like an Indian, he remains a `white man' in the eyes of the Indians because of his acquired western values. After all the efforts, Moon is still in search for his identity.

The chaos that is created by the cultural clashes is really disturbing. This movie certainly focuses on the problems from different viewpoints and the understanding about different cultures is much deepened. However, the answers just seem to raise more questions and the solution of the problem seems ever elusive. With the present global condition with many cultural dominances and religious wars, this movie raises quite relevant questions. Giving our thoughts to those questions may be quite challenging but it will certainly be very rewarding. I wish you greatest level of conscience for watching the movie.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars At Play in the Fields of the Lord
One of my favorite movies of all time. I really liked the book also. After seeing the movie quite some years ago, Tom Berenger, Kathy Bates, and other cast members came to life in... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Marta
5.0 out of 5 stars Old VCR tapes
Found this through Amazon in small store which had these old VCR tapes. They were prompt in sending it out and it worked with no breaks or problems.
Published 1 month ago by Neelahofnafia
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Waiting for the price to go down so I can get it on DVD.
Published 1 month ago by Master of the Realm
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
This is a great movie. The scenery is beautiful, actors are very realistic characters. Loved it!
Published 2 months ago by Mary Kaufman
3.0 out of 5 stars No ending.
I was really hoping for a great movie but I found it kind of lame and it really never went anywhere. I get the points and I agree but there has got to be a better way to tell it.
Published 2 months ago by G. Mauler
5.0 out of 5 stars Leave the tribes alone!
Awesome concept!
Published 3 months ago by debra parman
5.0 out of 5 stars Hypocrisy for All but the Victims
Superb acting and several points of view are seen and heard throughout this film. Several powerful characters are introduced which includes an American Indian, man with Jewish... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dennis Anderson
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating movie
Morality tale set in the deep amazon. Good story and acting. Authentic look at the remote Indian tribes. Curious that it was never put on DVD but glad Amazon streams it.
Published 4 months ago by Chris Waldear
5.0 out of 5 stars deep ethical movie
This movie is very well written and the actors do a wonderful job portraying their characters and the characters feelings and actions.
Published 4 months ago by Km
5.0 out of 5 stars Why has this movie not been made available in DVD form?
An outstanding study of the simple life of the Indians before being "invaded" by Westerners and their values. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Virginia Knaplund
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