Filled with peril and exotic fauna, tropical rainforests have long been a source of cinematic adventure.
Welcome to the jungle – vast, savage, and clamorous with the din of life continuing its primeval cycle, far from the orderliness of civilisation. Since the silent era, when filmmakers took their cameras around the globe to record for the first time far-flung places in motion for the benefit of science, knowledge and spectacle, this last stronghold of prehistory has provided an alluringly exotic setting for film adventures, an endless fount of jeopardy, colour and mystery. In the 1930s, Hollywood furnished the world with colonial-era fantasies, full of pith-helmeted explorers making their way through soundstage wonderlands of dappled light, pendular vines and menacing menageries. All jungles have their ghosts, and if memories of Tarzan and Kong still haunt the cinematic jungle, then Don Lope de Aguirre is there too – forever heading upriver on his beleaguered raft, his head crazed with fever and greedy dreams.
A tale of human folly and megalomania in the wilderness, at once surreal and documentary-like, Aguirre, Wrath of God was the first of many films that Herzog has made in the jungle – a terrain that fascinates him. From Tarzan via Herzog to the films of Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul, exploring cinema in the jungle is an expedition well worth making: you only need a few milestones to mark the way. By the 1930s, they’d given up their tenuous claims on science to concentrate purely on entertainment, collaborating in 1932 on The Most Dangerous Game, a thriller in which a big-game hunter becomes human prey on a jungly island in the Caribbean. Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan character, a British boy raised by apes after his aristocratic parents die in Africa, has appeared in over 80 films since 1918.
Tarzan and His Mate was Weissmuller’s second outing in the Tarzan loincloth (following 1932’s Tarzan the Ape Man) and is often considered the best of the series. Notable for being the only film ever directed by Cedric Gibbons, whose name appears as art director on hundreds of golden age Hollywood productions, Tarzan and His Mate is also surprisingly erotic, pushing at the boundaries of film censorship with underwater skinny-dipping sequences in which O’Sullivan appears nude and free from the shackles of civilisation. Perhaps you know Luis Bunuel the surrealist, who scandalised 1920s Paris with his avant-garde provocation Un chien andalou (1929), but do you know Bunuel the Boy’s Own adventurer? This 1956 French-Mexican co-production, made during Bunuel’s years of self-imposed exile in Mexico, is a thrilling action-adventure film set in an unnamed South American country, where a government crackdown on diamond mining leads to a disparate band of fugitives – including a priest (Michel Piccoli), a call-girl (Simone Signoret), a devil-may-care rogue (Georges Marchal) and an ageing miner (Charles Vanel) – fleeing for the Brazilian border through thick rainforest.
Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book stories have been filmed more faithfully in producer Alexander Korda’s 1942 version, featuring child star Sabu as the man-cub Mowgli, and in 1994 when Jason Scott Lee played him, but Walt Disney’s 1967 version, vibrantly animated and syncopated to a hepcat soundtrack of original songs (‘The Bare Necessities’, ‘I Wanna Be like You’) by the Sherman brothers, is perhaps the best loved.
War in the jungles of south-east Asia has provided the topic for many classic tales of endurance, from Samuel Fuller’s The Steel Helmet (1951) and Merrill’s Marauders (1962) to David Lean’s The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957).
Transplanting the story of Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness from the Congo to the humid rainforests of Vietnam, it tells of an American officer, Captain Willard (Martin Sheen), sent upriver in search of the renegade Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has apparently gone insane with power amid the carnage of war. Filled with hallucinatory visuals, Coppola’s film turns the Vietnamese jungle into a hellish playground of the senses – the river inked with blood and petrol, the sky alive with flares and fire. After the ordeal of filming in the Peruvian jungle for Aguirre, Wrath of God, Herzog went back for more with an even more taxing, foolhardy enterprise. Celebrating unfettered human passion and endurance, while in the same breath pointing to the absurdity of man’s ambitions over nature, Herzog’s film is conclusive proof of the director’s own extraordinary stamina and idealism. With his Indiana Jones films, Steven Spielberg repopularised the kind of breathless exotic adventure found in movies of the 1930s and 1940s. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, Romancing the Stone is the most charming of the many knock-offs that Hollywood churned out in Indiana’s image.
Perhaps sparked by Herzog’s ship-dragging feat in Fitzcarraldo, there was a mini-wave of serious-minded jungle movies in the mid-1980s, with directors Hugh Hudson, Peter Weir, John Milius and Roland Joffe each hearing the call of the wild. Like Herzog, John Boorman (Deliverance, 1972) is a director who has always been drawn to remote places, and in 1985 he cast his son Charley Boorman as Tommy, a teenage boy who has grown up among the Amazonian tribe which kidnapped him as a child.
In the past decade, world cinema has found a new king of the jungle: Thailand’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
2004’s Tropical Malady begins in the city, as two young men embark on a romance together, taking trips into the forest for picnics. Filmed in Central America in the space of just three weeks and for a budget of under ?500,000, Gareth Edwards’ feature debut is a model of low-budget genre filmmaking, with a simple but imagination-firing setup. Cleverly riffing on north-of-the-border paranoia about Mexico, it’s an unusually understated horror film, as memorable for its legion imaginative touches as for its nonetheless impressive special effects. Be the first to find out about all the latest news, events and offers from the British Film Institute. Dive into hand-picked classics and critically-acclaimed films, all for less than the price of a bucket of popcorn.
The Television Critics Association (TCA) has once again kicked off its Summer Press Tour and networks are ready to wow with their new series.
Tia Torres was in attendance along with one of her pit bull rescue Baker Red (can I just gush one second over how adorable he was) and one of the parolees she employs, Earl Moffett.

An interesting fact that Torres shared during the panel was the fact that some of the fame from the show has of course helped, but it has also backfired a bit on them in that more dogs are being dumped at their door now.
As an advocate for pit bulls, Torres shared that her and her children have all been bitten by dogs before but none of them was a pit bull. Later, she also made a point to say that she doesn’t believe every dog can be rehabilitated and they make sure to look out for the good ones and make sure they are safe for public safety. Animal Planet has landed itself quite the catch (pun not intended) with The Whale, a TV movie starring Martin Sheen based on the true account of the sinking of The Essex whaling ship. Animal Planet didn’t have a panel for the movie, but did share the trailer, which looks quite impressive.
AHC (American Heroes Channel) will premiere its new series Gunslingers on July 20, which tells the true stories behind the infamous icons and conflicts of the Wild West. Discovery Channel showed off their reality series, Naked and Afraid, which pairs complete strangers (a man and a woman) and leaves them stranded and naked with only one personal item each and their survival expertise to survive for 21 days. And for those wondering, the nakedness is blurred, sorry… or maybe that’s a good thing? Living in modern society, we have become increasingly disassociated from the earth, from the essence of ourselves, and the need is awakened in us to return to the wilderness–physically and emotionally.
Hailing from Indiana farm country, JAMIE HYNEMAN is a multifaceted man: He's been a wilderness survival expert, boat captain, diver, linguist, animal wrangler, machinist and cook, to name but a few.
Cody Lundin is an internationally known professional survival instructor with over 20 years of hands-on teaching experience. In 1991, Lundin founded the Aboriginal Living Skills School in Arizona, where he teaches modern wilderness survival skills, primitive living skills, urban preparedness, and homesteading. Lundin lives in a self-designed, off-the-grid solar earth home in the high-desert wilderness of Northern Arizona. With Aguirre, Wrath of God out now on Blu-ray, we trek into the heart of darkness in search of 10 of the best jungle films. Crocodiles, toucans, elephants and tigers shared space with Tarzan, King Kong, dubiously portrayed ‘savages’ and a creeping morass of vegetation. In Werner Herzog’s classic Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972), Aguirre (played by Herzog regular, Klaus Kinski) is the Spanish conquistador leading a 16th-century expedition into the Amazon basin in search of El Dorado, the fabled lost city of gold. Dim the lights, imagine the deafening drone of insects, and lay back in your hammock for 10 great films set in the jungle. Then, in 1933, they created a sensation with a movie about a film crew – not unlike their own outfit – travelling to tropical Skull Island to track down a legendary giant ape. After the coming of sound in the late 1920s, he was embodied by Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller, who forever popularised the image of Burroughs’ noble savage as a vine-swinging hulk communicating in monosyllables. An archetypal example of Hollywood exotica, using the forests and lakes of California and Florida as stand-ins for the African jungle, it picks up where the first film left off, with society girl Jane (Maureen O’Sullivan) living her new life in the trees with Tarzan and his chimpanzee, Cheetah – an idyll that will be disturbed when two huntsmen arrive in search of ivory from a local elephant burial ground.
The rainforests of central India are vividly reproduced in the hand-painted backgrounds, creating an illusion of depth of field with a dense world of vines, fronds and hanging fruit.
But Francis Ford Coppola’s magnum opus Apocalypse Now is the jungle warfare film to end them all.
From the sudden flash of a tiger in the gloom, via the grotesque human pantomime of a Playboy revue, to the dreamlike slaughter of a water buffalo, this nightmarish vision of humanity at the end of its tether grips like malarial fever.
Fitzcarraldo charts the wild-eyed efforts of rubber-baron Brian Sweeney ‘Fitzcarraldo’ Fitzgerald (Klaus Kinski) to bring culture to the wilderness, sailing up unnavigable waters with the aim of building an opera house deep in the jungle.
For one scene, he presided over a 350-ton steamboat being dragged over a hill – an Olympian feat inspired by the exploits of a real-life rubber-baron in 19th-century South America, despite history recording the real Fitzcarraldo’s load as ‘merely’ 30 tons. Full of booby traps, lost treasures and cliff-hanging suspense, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and its first sequel Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) were naturally quite at home in the jungle, where the generous supply of snakes and creepy-crawlies ensured squirm-inducing moments of peril were never far off. Kathleen Turner plays Joan Wilder, a lonely-heart romantic novelist who suddenly finds herself heading to Colombia in search of her kidnapped sister, with a cryptic treasure map tucked into her suitcase. Though in many ways the story resembles an update of John Ford’s The Searchers (1956), with Tommy’s dad (Powers Boothe) conducting a years-long search to find his missing son, Boorman’s film is less a revenge drama than an ecological fable about the destruction of the rainforests by industry and the gradual disappearance of the centuries-old way of life of their indigenous peoples.
From Blissfully Yours (2002), which features a young man with a skin condition trekking into the rainforest for respite, to the Palme d’Or-winning Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010), in which the dense vegetation conceals red-eyed phantoms and a talking catfish, the jungle is a recurring backdrop in his work – dark, mysterious and humming with life. But a sudden break in the narrative leads into the bizarre tale of a soldier who encounters a tiger shaman while lost in the woods. In a Mexico that’s been quarantined after a crashed space probe has brought alien life forms to earth, two young Americans stranded south of the infected zone must find their way back to safety in the US.

With a nod to Herzog, Apocalypse Now and the Spielberg of Jurassic Park (1993), the couple’s journey takes them upriver and then into the jungle, where the ruins of Mayan pyramids dot their path and the thick of the trees provides Edwards with plenty of scope to prove that the scariest frights come from the darkest corners.
Discovery Communications brought out quite a few of its networks and shows, including Pit Bulls & Parolees, The Whale, Naked and Afraid and Gunslingers. I was not aware of the show until now, but have added it to my schedule for the Fall (it returns for its sixth season on Saturday, September 27th at 10pm). The movie originally premiered in the UK in December of last year and is finally making its way to the US this Fall.
And here is a fun fact for you: The book the movie is based on, In The Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick, is in fact the inspiration for Moby Dick. The interesting thing about the series is that as a docudrama series it mixes interviews with dramatic reenactment.
In her years doing this, she has tried many products and seen many more she liked the looks of.
He has trained private, corporate, and governmental agencies, thousands of students, and dozens of national and international media sources in outdoor and urban preparedness skills.
When not teaching for his own school, Cody is an adjunct faculty member at Yavapai College and a faculty member at the Ecosa Institute, where he teaches his survival curriculum.
Following the sound of bone-chilling roars above the jungle canopy, King Kong’s first appearance out from the trees is one of the great entrances in cinema history.
Patience is required for these long scenes of the soldier trekking through the trees, but Weerasethakul slowly works his magic, and the otherworldly sights and sounds of the forest cast a delicious spell of entrancement. The series follows Tia Torres and her pit bull rescue center (the largest one in the US), Villalobos Rescue Center, as she rescues pit bull and gives a second chance to parolees she employs to help her run the center.
From the trailer shown, those dramatic reenactment feel like a regular scripted series you’d expect to see on TV and not the low quality reenactment we sometimes get for real life stories. After working for several special-effects companies, Jamie found his way to Colossal Pictures' model shop, where he managed the production of models and special effects for hundreds of commercials and movies.
He has been going barefoot for more than 20 years, part of his indigenous self-reliant philosophy. Colton (Michael Douglas), who persuades her that they can find the treasure themselves before her pursuers. Then, 20 years ago, Jamie took over the shop and created M5 INDUSTRIES INC, now home to MythBusters and its production crew. O’Brien, who’d had a dry-run for the film’s dinosaur fights in the 1925 version of The Lost World, Kong remains – 80 years later – the cinematic jungle’s most famous denizen. Included are instructions for creating fire and tools of wood, stone, and bone, as well as fiber adhesives, projectiles, art, and music.
Over his career, Jamie has worked on more than 800 commercials for major automobile manufacturers, soft-drink companies, athletic shoes and numerous other products -- including 7-Up's spitting vending machine and Hershey's jingle-bell-ringing Kisses.
His work can also be seen in such movies as Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula, Arachnophobia, Naked Lunch and Flubber.
It was in 1993 that Jamie met Adam Savage, during the period when Adam was building unique props for stage productions in the San Francisco Bay area. Jamie hired Adam to work with him as a model maker, and they went on to collaborate on more than 100 commercials together -- not to mention the combat robot Blendo,which was removed from Robot Wars competitions in 1995 and 1997 for being too dangerous.
His videos include podcasts with Tested's Will Smith and Norman Chan, as well as one-off pieces in which he shows off "toys" such as his electric outboard boat motor and high-pressure air gun, describes the year he left home (at age 14) and tests the Oculus Rift virtual-reality goggles. His television cameo appearances, along with Adam, include CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Simpsons and Disney's Phineas and Ferb. And Jamie's public appearances include San Diego Comic Con (annually, since 2008) and occasional speeches such as 2014's e.g. Today, while executive producing and hosting MythBusters and other television projects occupies the majority of Jamie's professional activities, he has produced a steady flow of innovative products at M5 Industries, as well as in collaboration with the Office of Naval Research, the U.S. As a result of this he holds two honorary doctorates and several patents in areas ranging from electro mechanical products to solar energy collection and ultra efficient armor.

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