The Emerald forest, 1985
visit the film locations
The Emerald Forest location: the Brazilian jungle: Parque Nacional do Itatiaia (Itatiaia National Park), Brazil
Photograph: wikimedia / Rodrigo Silvestri
Charley Boorman is probably now better known scooting round the globe on a motorbike with Ewan McGregor, but he made his screen debut as a child in his father John Boorman’s 1972 Deliverance. Thirteen years later, he was cast by his father again as the abducted son of dam engineer Bill Markham (Powers Boothe), who spends more than ten years searching for him in the Brazilian jungle.
The wonderful looking, ecologically conscious drama, based on real events, was actually filmed on location in Brazil.
Markham’s ‘Amazco’ office is a government building on the waterfront of Belem, the capital of the state of Pará in Northern Brazil, and the gateway to the River Amazon.
The rain forest clearances as depicted in the film are real, including the area designated for the Carajás Mine, the world's largest iron ore mine, about 5 miles west of Carajás itself. The region boasts the richest reserves and concentrations of iron ore in the world, a fact discovered by accident in the late 1960s.
This really is why the dam in the film was under construction. The mine is largely powered by hydroelectric power from the Tucuruí Dam, across the Tocantins River at Tucuruí, almost two hundred miles to the north. The dam was still under construction well into the 21st Century.
Jungle locations include Cachoeira Toboga, a jungle pool beneath a smooth rock face that makes a natural water slide. It’s not far from Penha, which you can reach by bus from Paraty.
The waterfall, where Markham is finally reunited with son Tomme, is in Parque Nacional do Itatiaia (Itatiaia National Park). Established in 1937, it’s the oldest national park in Brazil, standing on the border between Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais states. The park is divided in two areas, and it’s the low area of the park, closer to the city of Itatiaia, that you’ll find its many waterfalls.
Less exotically, for the dam burst sequence, a scaled down model was built across a stream in Spilsby, Lincolnshire.