One way to evaluate the power of anything new to you, is to see how long it takes for it to leave your consciousness. I saw the film “Jungle” a few days ago. Now I feel the need to tell you about it.
This is a true story that happened back in 1981, first made into a book in 2005. A young Israeli adventurer named Yossi Ghinsberg (played by Daniel Radcliffe) travels to La Paz, Bolivia for a journey into the heart of the Amazon rainforest. He makes a few new friends who are also looking for adventure, and then meets a mysterious Austrian, Karl Ruchprecter, who claims he has great expertise in traveling this jungle and can take them all to see some lost Indian tribe. Yossi believes him, and convinces the others to join him on the trek of a lifetime.
Things go really well for a few days until one traveler injures his feet badly and cannot keep walking. Karl and the injured man decide to try and walk the three days back to La Paz. Yossi and his friend Kevin choose to continue their journey on a makeshift raft. After some great rafting footage, their raft is destroyed in a waterfall, and Yossi is washed away down the river, leaving Kevin far behind. Without a knife or any other kind of survival training, Yossi is forced to improvise shelter and forage to survive.
Yossi’s three weeks of wandering through the Amazon jungle are the meat of this film. This is the story of amazing survival, but so much more. I like the phrase “discovering the hero within you” to describe the powerful and primal battle Yossi fights inside and outside himself while living on almost nothing, with so many deadly insects, plants and animals. Yossi never gives up hope in spite of so many mistakes, missteps and fascinating hallucinations in this complex psychological thriller. The best part for me was the study of all the ways our mind will fight to protect us from reality, when reality is beyond comprehension. For a few days, Yossi develops a special relationship with a native girl he finds in the forest. Just as quickly as she appears, she vaporizes back into the mist. His dream sequences are also a total hoot!
Meanwhile Kevin is eventually discovered by people from a local town and he begins a campaign to go back into the forest to find Yossi. When flyovers fail, Kevin still believes his friend has somehow survived weeks in the jungle. Kevin bonds with a local boatman and they take off down the river in search of Yossi, finally finding him very nearly deceased, lying on a river bank.
There are so many great lines in this film. I think a few of my favorites came at the beginning when Karl, the Austrian great white hunter who thought he knew everything about jungle life, explains things to these young kids from the ‘civilized’ world. One of their greatest fears was of jaguar, so Karl explains to them: “jaguars love to eat monkey meat, and to them we are just big stupid monkeys.” We never do find out why Karl disappeared into the jungle, never to be heard from again.