At Play in the Fields of the Lord [1991]

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

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