Bill Markham (Powers Boothe) is an engineer who has moved to Brazil with his family to work on a large hydro-electric dam. The film opens on Markham’s family having a picnic on the edge of the jungle, which is being cleared for the dam’s construction. His young son Tommy (William Rodriguez) wanders from the cleared area. An Indian (Rui Polanah) from one of the indigenous tribes known as the Invisible People notices Tommy and abducts him to protect him from the destructive builders. Markham pursues the pair into the forest but does not find his son.
Ten years later, the dam is nearing completion. A 17 year old Tommy (Charley Boorman), now called Tomme, has become one of the Invisible People. Tomme marries a woman named Kachiri (Dira Paes) and undergoes a vision quest, where his spirit animal tells him he must retrieve sacred stones from a remote spot deep in the jungle. Chief Wanadi, the man who abducted and adopted Tommy, warns him that the quest will be dangerous, as it will take him into the territory of the cannibalistic Fierce People.
Meanwhile, Markham has finally identified his son’s abductors. Markham and a journalist decide to set off bottle rockets to attract the attention of the Invisible People. Instead, they attract the Fierce People and are captured. Armed with a CAR-15 carbine, Markham is able to defend himself long enough to talk with Jacareh (Claudio Moreno), the leader of the Fierce People. Jacareh releases Markham for the night, promising to hunt him down in the morning, while the Fierce People kill and butcher the journalist.
Close to dawn, Markham stumbles into Tomme collecting the sacred stones. The two recognize each other just as the Fierce People arrive, shooting Markham in the shoulder. Tomme and his father manage to escape, leaving Markham’s carbine behind. In the care of the Invisible People, Markham recovers from his injuries and undergoes a vision quest, waking up back at the dam’s construction zone.
The Emerald Forest is a 1985 British adventure drama film set in the Brazilian Rainforest. It was directed by John Boorman and written by Rospo Pallenberg. It is based on a true story. The film was screened out of competition at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival.
The Emerald Forest (1985)
Directed by: John Boorman
Starring: Powers Boothe, Meg Foster, Yara Vaneau, William Rodriguez, Estee Chandler, Charley Boorman, Dira Paes, Ariel Coelho
Screenplay by: Rospo Pallenberg
Production Design by: Simon Holland
Cinematography by: Philippe Rousselot
Film Editing by: Ian Crafford
Costume Design by: Clovis Bueno, Christel Kruse Boorman
Art Direction by: Marcos Flaksman, Terry Pritchard
Music by: Brian Gascoigne, Junior Homrich
Distributed by: Embassy Pictures
Release Date: July 5, 1985