Review: ‘Green Mansions’

Filmization of W.H. Hudson's novel has been approached with reverence and taste but fantastic elements puzzle and annoy. Hudson wrote an allegory of eternal love in his story of Rima, the bird-girl, who is discovered in the Venezuelan jungles by the political refugee, Abel. In the screenplay, Rima (Audrey Hepburn), is a real girl, but one with unusual communion with the forest and its wild life.

Filmization of W.H. Hudson’s novel has been approached with reverence and taste but fantastic elements puzzle and annoy. Hudson wrote an allegory of eternal love in his story of Rima, the bird-girl, who is discovered in the Venezuelan jungles by the political refugee, Abel. In the screenplay, Rima (Audrey Hepburn), is a real girl, but one with unusual communion with the forest and its wild life.

She is found by Abel (Anthony Perkins) when he hides out with an Indian tribe after fleeing a political uprising in which his father had been killed. Rumors of gold in the neighborhood stir Perkins’ imagination because he needs money to avenge his father’s assassination.

Director Mel Ferrer and his cameraman had done some good location work in South America. It is skillfully utilized, by process and editing, with backlot work. But Ferrer has been less successful in getting his characters to come alive, or in getting his audience to care about them.

Hepburn is pretty as the strange young woman, but with no particular depth. Perkins seems rather frail for his role, despite a trial by ordeal given him by Henry Silva’s tribe. Silva, on the other hand, gives an exciting performance, fatally damaging to Perkins, the hero, overshadowing him in their dramatic conflict.

Green Mansions

Production

M-G-M. Director Mel Ferrer; Producer Edmund Grainger; Screenplay Dorothy Kingsley; Camera Joseph Ruttenberg; Editor Ferris Webster; Music Bronislau Kaper, Heitor Villa-Lobos

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1959. Running time: 104 MIN.

With

Audrey Hepburn Anthony Perkins Lee J. Cobb Sessue Hayakawa Henry Silva Nehemiah Persoff

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