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At Play in the Fields of the Lord [VHS]

4.3 out of 5 stars 120 customer reviews

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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, Vincent Patrick
  • Producers: David Nichols, Francisco Ramalho Jr., Paul Zaentz
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Rated:
  • 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 (120 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302359848
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,758 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
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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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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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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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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