At Play in the Fields of the Lord

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Babenco's ambitious eco-movie, co-scripted with Jean-Claude Carrière, condenses Peter Matthiessen's lengthy novel embracing greed, disloyalty and religious conflict in the Amazon rainforest. Martin Quarrier (Quinn) strives to understand the very culture he seeks to change: when he arrives to convert Niaruna tribesmen, clashes with his repressive wife (Bates) and dogmatic fellow-missionary Huben (Lithgow) foreshadow terrible violence. His despair is more discreetly matched by that of Huben's wife (Hannah, weak in a sketchy role), but overshadowed by that of Lewis Moon (Berenger), a part-Cheyenne mercenary who throws in his lot with the Niaruna. The film boasts a sense of conviction and wonderful natural spectacle, but lacks drive. There are also awkward lunges in tone, most evident in Bates' swift decent into madness, and the casting is problematic. Lithgow, Bates and Waits (as Moon's low-life partner) are all excellent, but Quinn's heart-throb status jars with the requirements of his role.

Release details

Duration: 187 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Hector Babenco
Screenwriter: Jean-Claude Carrière, Hector Babenco
Cast: Tom Berenger
John Lithgow
Daryl Hannah
Aidan Quinn
Tom Waits
Kathy Bates
Nelson Xavier
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