‘Green Inferno’ – Helping or hindering rainforest conservation?

The movie The Green Inferno was made in 2013. It’s a US cannibal adventure horror film directed by Eli Roth, best known for the grisly horrors, Hostel parts 1 and 2, and it’s set in the Amazon.

Inspired by classic 1970s and early ’80s Italian cannibal movies, including the legendary Cannibal Holocaust, it’s about a bunch of young idealists determined to do their bit to help conserve the Amazon rainforest. But, as you’d expect, things soon go horribly wrong when their light aircraft crashes into the jungle and they’re captured by a tribe of cannibals.

All good fun, you might think. But is it really?

The film has been widely criticised by organisations dedicated to conserving rainforests, including Survival International, which supports the well-being and rights of indigenous people.

Why the fuss? Many feel the film demonises indigenous people and labels them as uncivilised, when in fact they are – in many ways – a whole lot more civilised than western cultures. They do not, after all, wreck the forests they depends on. It’s usually ‘us’ westerners who do that, large corporations without a conscience and profit-focused short-term thinkers.

What does the film maker himself say?

Eli Roth himself has dismissed concerns that a mere movie could hurt indigenous people to the extent that the forests they live in come under even more threat than they are already. But it’s clearly a complex argument.

On one hand the movie is clearly a work of fiction, probably involving a good deal of tongue in cheek. It isn’t a serious film, it’s meant to be fun. On the other hand some feel the plight of the planet’s rainforests is so acute that anything that sheds a negative light on its worth and value – including that of the people who live there – could be seen as unhelpful.

While The Green Inferno premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, it was unexpectedly removed from Universal Studios’ release list during 2014. But it looks like it’ll be in a cinema near you some time in autumn 2015, potentially on 25th September.

We’d love to know what you think

Do you feel the movie might turn people away from rainforest conservation by portraying indigenous tribes as violent, uncivilised and dangerous? Would you give movie-goers more credit, believing they’ll know it’s all fantasy and act accordingly? Or do you think the subject of deforestation is far too serious to mess with? Feel free to leave a comment.


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