Green Fire

April 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

Stewart Granger, wooing Grace Kelly in Green Fire: “In the meantime, there’s all this. A classic setting: man, woman, tropic night, beautiful river. . .” Yes, folks, that’s right–Stewart Granger identified the Jungle Love genre half a century before I did.

And Green Fire is a worthy addition to the canon. A rare example set in the New World rather than Darkest Africa or the steamy jungles of southeast Asia, it nevertheless covers all the necessary tropes: a love triangle between middle-aged men and a 20-something leading lady; a beautiful Colombian setting (filmed on location); a substantial population of brown people to work the coffee plantation and the emerald mine and, when necessary, to wave guns around threateningly; a cave-in and an eventual landslide, along with the ongoing threat of the rainy season, an ostensibly Hispanic villain played by a WASPy former Yalie. No royalty, but we do get emeralds, which has to count for something, right? I’m going with “Right.”

The run-down: Granger is an emerald miner-slash-adventurer in Colombia. His claim borders a coffee plantation owned by Grace Kelly and her brother. Granger aims to romance Kelly, but his devotion to the mine ends up alienating him not only from her but from his business partner as well. Meanwhile, a group of bandits led by a man called El Moro is terrorizing the miners, trying to take the emeralds for themselves.

Green Fire wears its white savior complex on its sleeve. It’s paternalist, colonialist, and misogynist. Not only that, it’s horrifying from an environmentalist standpoint, what with all the mountain-decimating and river-rerouting. So of course, I loved it. I don’t know why I even try to justify it anymore: it turns out I just like racist, sexist movies in spite of themselves. And apparently we can add “environmentally destructive movies” to that list.

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