on June 21, 2003
I have to give this film five stars for all the reasons that the other fans of this movie discuss. This commentary is on an unusual glitch that I discovered with the DVD. I'm referring to the MGM "Contemporary Classics" edition (in case there's another version out there).
I was surprised to discover that, when the native people were speaking, some of the subtitling was left off. Moments of indigenous dialogue were left un-subtitled in the VHS version (moments when a character appeared to be saying something like "Move" or "Hey, look."). However, with the DVD, there was one scene where a bit of dialogue that was significant to the development of the plot went unsubtited, and we were all left in the dark. It happened in only one significant scene, that I noticed, and eventually it was apparent what the character had said, but it was still frustrating and strange.
However, I still recommend that you get the DVD. When comparing scenes between the DVD and my old VHS copy (in order to see what had been said during the previously mentioned scene), I discovered that the old pan and scan version occasionally cut out almost 50% of the screen! With a film this beautiful, this is intolerable!
If you have this on VHS and are considering upgrading to DVD, I recommend that you do so - the visual pay-off is great! But keep your hands on the old VHS copy, unless you know the dialogue from memory.
Bill Markham (Powers Boothe), an American engineer supervising a development project in the Amazon Rainforest has his young son Tomme (Charley Boorman) abducted by an elusive Indian tribe known as "The Invisible People." Bill spends the next ten years combing the jungles trying to find Tomme and bring him home.
When they are finally reunited Tomme is now a young man and the adopted son of the tribal chief and shaman (Ruy Polanah). He has also chosen a wife and is about to be married. And so the struggle begins, not only between father and son, but between two very foreign cultures in search of mutual understanding and acceptance.
While the two fathers and son work through the implications of their chance meeting danger looms on the horizon. A neighboring tribe of cannibals known as "The Fierce People" will soon attack. The ensuing confrontation will force Bill to join in the battle in an effort to defeat a mutual enemy.
Everything about this film is first rate. Acting (Powers Boothe, Charley Boorman and Ruy Polanah), directing (John Boorman), cinematography, and screenplay. It even has an important message to get across (saving the Rainforest) and does so without preaching to the audience or jeopardizing the integrity of the story.
It has been some twenty years since the release of this film, yet it still remains to be relatively unknown by a vast majority of movie watchers. Why it hasn't received more attention by now is a total mystery to me. This is one of the true undiscovered gems of cinema that everyone should experience. Definitely one of my all-time top ten films!
on November 16, 2001
Haven't seen this movie for at least 15 years, now it is out on DVD. It is a great movie, about an engineer (Powers Boothe) who was building a dam in Amazon rain forest. His son was kidnapped by lost tribe of the amazon. He searched endlessly for his missing son for 10 years. It is based on true story. The acting is very good and the location is beautiful. Too bad the DVD can't displayed it properly as the color is a bit pale and dark. The sound is Dolby 2.0 only and a bit let down, especially after the DVD opens with the high power MGM logo presented in Dolby 5.1 and when it plays the film, you can immediately feel the drop in the sound quality. But overall it is a very entertaining DVD that worth considering.
I had heard a bit about "The Emerald Forest" when it first came out so I got the video as soon as it was available. This is a terrific movie! It has some faults but I am willing to forgive them for the fun, adventure, and excitement that I got from watching this movie.
For openings, the concept is terrific. It may be the worst nightmare for a parent but we, the audience, are spared that knowing that it won't be much of a movie if the son doesn't reappear. It is from the perspective of the son that the story holds its' magic. Suppose you were captured by obscure Amazonian tribesmen around the age of 5 and swept of into the depth of the vast jungle world they live in. I know...lousy food, no indoor plumbing, no TV, etc. etc. etc.. But let's forget about that (and missing mommy and daddy) and consider the adventure of a lifetime.
The story, of course, involves the reuniting of parents and child. It is something like 7-10 years later and our little boy is now a teenager in his Amazonian society. The family members reunite, solve a crisis of modern man, and the boy, now a man in his new society, faces the choice of which world to live in.
The cinematography is outstanding and the infinite possibilities are well-utilized. Some parts of the story slow the movie down a bit but the impact remains profound. This is a movie to watch with just about the whole family. Some of the corruption of the modern world may cross over a line or two but it does fit into the message of the movie. For some reason this outrstanding movie seemed to have come in under the radar as far as audiences went. So what! Watch it and enjoy it for the good movie that it is.
on March 25, 2005
If it hadn't been for "The Emerald Forest" I don't think I would have been familiar with the brilliant actor Powers Boothe. I first saw this movie when I was a little boy, and it's one of those movie-experiences that stays with you, and this one-of-a-kind-movie is a movie that never quite leaves you. Mostly I think because the story is so gripping, and tragic. The boy who is "kidnapped" by some lost tribe -and raised in the deep of the Amazon. The father who never gives up the hope to find him, and it takes him ten years to find his son -only to discover that he has lost him "mentally", and that it is too late. The acting is so brilliant and belieavable. It is also a lecture in what the industrial world is doing with the nature. I find it frightening every time I see the movie when the "chief" of the tribe tells his "son" that every year the "edge of the world" is getting closer. And that they've cut down the trees of the fathers. A grotesque image! "The edge of the world" that means the termination of the forests, the longues of the world! Well, this movie still leaves me thinking every time! A movie about belief, courage -but also loss. And above all; Love!
I highly recommend this!
on April 7, 2001
I remember seeing this movie when it came out with a friend, who had to say that "the natives all had perfect teeth." If you're looking for a documentary, then this film is going to disappoint you. However, if you're looking for a beautiful, haunting film, one that will stay with you for a very long time, then this is a film for you. There are a number of themes at work here, everything from the destruction of the rain forest to the white man's influence on "primitive" tribes to a man's search for his son to a couple of swipes at Werner Herzog. The visuals are dazzling, your television never looked so good or so green. Rather than the botched widescreen version of Excaliber, the widescreen version of this film does true justice to the movie. The widescreen does allow you to see more and does take your breath away. While not all of it works (the end at the dam scene just doesn't fit the rest of the picture), enough of it does to leave the viewer wanting much more. The acting is very good but it's the vistas that the viewer will remember. Ok, now, Fox, time for the same treatment to Zardoz! Five stars out of five.
on July 26, 2005
I originally saw this on VHS and later purchased it on DVD because I love the story. The DVD ad said it had subtitles, which is important since about half of the movie is in a South American language. What a disappointment when I got my DVD and the subtitles were in French, German...but not English! What a rip-off!!
five stars for the movie, one star for subtitle misinformation.
on January 12, 2011
In his long career as director that spans more than 40 years, John Boorman has made films that are not many in number, but cover a wide variety of topics. Just watch the list of his films and you know what I mean - "Point Blank" "Deliverance" "Excalibur" "The General" and ... well ..."Exorcist II: The Heretic." And don't forget the 1974 sci-fi cult film "Zardoz" starring Sean Connery and Charlotte Rampling. "The Emerald Forest" is probably one of his better works, if not his best. The film's message about the vanishing rainforest is still resonant, though it is undermined by the uneven narrative.
The storyline itself is simple. Tommy, a young son of an American dam engineer Bill Markham (Powers Booth), is abducted by a rainforest tribe in Brazil. While Bill tries to find the clues as to the whereabouts of the tribe (known as the "Invisible People"), ten years pass by, turning the missing son into a warrior - now Tomme (played by Charlie Boorman) - fighting to protect his love and land.
Visuals of the rain forests are gorgeous, capturing the charms and dangers of the place. Also, the film's actions (including gun fights) are not bad. Strong acting from Charlie Boorman (director's son) is also memorable, but characters' conflicting emotions are not fully explored, often overshadowed by the struggles and battles between two opposing forces. (Strangely, the boy's mother played by Meg Foster has little to do in the story.) The director seems more interested in the adventures of the two males than in the father-and-son relationship, where the film originally started.
The end result is not bad, though. This is a very entertaining film with an important message, although the message itself is a bit too obvious for viewers.
on January 25, 2005
It was heartening to read so many glowing reviews of EF, and see how many people consider it a "favorite" film. It has been a favorite of mine for many years. It is one of the very best films I know of in the "action/adventure" genre, yet transcends that genre with political smarts and vivid subplots. This kind of story used to be featured in magazines like ARGOSY when I was a kid, but on a much pulpier level.One plotline all the other reviewers seem to have missed is the discovery of the prostition ring by the Powers Boothe character late in the film.There is one brief scene in this film which remains my favorite ten or so seconds of film of all time. It sends shivers up my spine every time I see it: the viewer is suddenly transported high up in the air, flying right alongside some eagle-like bird, on some relentless dreamlike mission conjured up by the rainforest tribe and their rituals. Worth waiting for, even if the movie leaves you cold / A GREAT film, from one of the greatest living directors.
on May 11, 2016
This 1985 movie is hugely important 20 years later in terms of its commentary on "Modernity" and modernity's increasing damage to our environment, scientifically called, "The Biosphere". Those primitives who live "Respecting Mother Earth" as opposed to "Ripping the skin off of the World, know what "The modern world has forgotten", that the Industrial Age and Technological Age have produced both great good and increasing damage to our world. Even through this movie won no "Oscars" it is far more important than most Oscar-winning movies, except perhaps for Dances With Wolves. Tommy's father, realizing the damage to the natural world that the dam he himself built, blows it up so that his son, who lives in the Amazon Rainforest, can have a future with his wife and his descendants. It is very clear, two decades after this film came out that we must switch to renewable energy sources. The burning of fossil fuels is re-releasing the huge amounts of Carbon Dioxide first released from ancient volcanos 400 million years ago. That Carbon Dioxide raised the Earth's surface temperature to 130-140 degrees Fahrenheit, ushering in the age of the giant reptiles. Burning fossil fuels is re-releasing that Carbon Dioxide and we are going to again experience surface temperatures of 130-140 degrees Fahrenheit, obliterating modern civilization. Nature will not tolerate our abuse of it and will respond in very impersonal ways, which we are already experiencing as giant forest fires, increased desertification, rising seas, etc. This is a "Must See" movie for everybody.