Books Related to the Film, The Emerald Forest


John Boorman's The Emerald Forest.
By Robert Holdstock.
Based on a screenplay by Rospo Pallenberg.
New York Zoetrope, 1985.
207 pages.
ISBN: 0-918432-70-7

If you're a big fan of the movie, consider reading the novel adapted from it. Yes, movie novelizations are cheesy, but this one is by the acclaimed fantasy writer Robert Holdstock, and I found it to be quite well written. It brings more detail to the mythic world Boorman created for the Invisible People, fleshing out many of the concepts that flash across the screen rather quickly. Also, the friendship between Tomme and Mapi is explored in greater depth. Mapi is a year younger than Tomme and somewhat jealous that Tomme passes his rite of passage, or "hunt-death," earlier than him. By becoming a man Tomme is allowed to marry Kachiri and to participate in dangerous hunts, and consequently, leave Mapi behind. Other aspects of the story that are fleshed out further include:

  • The relationships between Wanadi and his three wives.
  • The relationship between Tomme's village and Kachiri's village.
  • The reason why Wanadi kidnapped Tomme.
  • What the family did during the ten years they spent searching for Tommy.

Well, I hope that's enough to pique your interest in the novel! The glossary I've made may give you an idea of some of the content that is explored further.

The UK edition, published by Penguin. Painting by Jim Burns.

The Australian edition, also by Penguin.

Another US edition.

The back cover of the US edition.

The book also includes eight pages of color photos. Below, director John Boorman explaining a scene to his son.


The Emerald Forest Diary: A Filmmaker's Odyssey.
By John Boorman.
New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1985.
242 pages.
ISBN: 274-14769-8
(out of print)

I know what you're thinking: "Am I really interested in this movie enough to read an entire book on the making of it?" Toss aside any doubts you may have and dive into this marvelous book, which is about so much more than this particular movie. Boorman's mind ranges over the topics of Brazilian culture, the destruction of the Amazon, the 20,000-year gulf that divides our culture from the rain forest natives, modern man's loss of a mythology that adds meaning to our lives, the theme that unites Emerald Forest with his earlier films Deliverance and Excalibur. He discusses the movie-making process with profound wisdom and in intricate detail, but in between his meditations on art he gives us hilarious Hollywood anecdotes and explains the elaborate, vicious business world that lies behind the images on the screen.

Both in his themes and in his vibrant, often lyrical style, Boorman recalls the greatest of prose poets, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Sadly, Fitzgerald did not finish his great novel of Hollywood, but Boorman's wonderful memoir carries on the flame. Prepare to be dazzled.

Some of my favorite passages in this book:


Wizard of the Upper Amazon: The Story of Manuel Cordova-Rios.
By F. Bruce Lamb.
Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.
202 pages.
ISBN: 9780938190806

First published in 1971, this is the amazing true story of a Peruvian boy who was kidnapped by Amahuaca Indians in 1907 when he was 15 years old. He was out on a rubber harvesting trip with his uncle and some other men, and was capture while temporarily alone at the camp. He stayed with the Amahuaca for three years, learned their language, and learned how to hunt. He learned later that the Indians kidnapped him so that they could learn about whites and acquire guns. The chief took the boy under his tutelage and taught him all the healing powers of all the plants in the forest, and also conducted carefully controlled sessions of the psychedelic ayahuasca vine, here called nixi honi xuma.

This book is absolutely fascinating, one of the greatest books I have ever read, and every bit as riveting as the film The Emerald Forest. It is tempting to think that John Boorman was influenced by this book. But regardless of whether he actually read it, or whether the similarities are the result of many other accounts of kidnappings that occurred in the same way (there may have been hundreds), which Boorman may have learned of indirectly, this is a must-read for any fan of the movie, or anyone interested in the rain forest, its dwellers, and its vast medicinal powers.

If you have any questions, or comments, or info to add, write to me, Jungle Boy, at:

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