Together, they sliced huge vines, braved wild animals and insects, fended off hostile natives and prayed they wouldn’t cross into Brazil and encounter unfriendly Portuguese. A devastating earthquake interrupted their explorations and Bonpland’s sexual romps. Ultimately, von Humboldt, who nearly drowned, receiveed a “kiss” from Bonpland, in the form of life-saving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Pic has an unclear political level, as the two botanists have a letter of mission from the French king, but Spanish officials in Venezuela accuse them of being aggressive cartographers rather than benign scientists. They also have the opportunity to liberate slaves and persecuted Indians.
During their field trip, they are accompanied by Pedro Montagner (Carlos Cruz), an indigenous teacher, but here presented as a noble savage. The two-dimensional slave owner Cesar Rivera (Dimas Gonzalez) and a bigoted priest round out their party.
Dupuis, whose good looks and natural exuberance make him stand out, is the only uncaricatured character, since von Humboldt is presented as your run-of-the-mill subdued latent homosexual. (Vadim’s inability to act doesn’t help). All except Pedro nearly lose their minds when they get lost in dense jungle. At this point, the film begins to verge on parody, sort of the Europudding version of “Heart of Darkness,” with Bonpland suddenly morphing into Kurtz.
Technical credits are just barely adequate, although the print shown in Guadalajara was so scratched and garbled that it was hard to tell.