Amazon Adventure 3D documentary review
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- Published on Thursday, 11 April 2019 10:08
- Last Updated on 16 April 2019
- Monica Costa
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Amazon Adventure tells the epic, true story of Henry Bates, the son of a sock maker, who risked his life in the perilous Amazon in the 1850’s and discovered the “beautiful proof” for the greatest explanation ever put forward for the development of life on earth.
Pulled out of school in Leicester at the age of 13 to apprentice in a hosiery factory, Bates loved nature, was an avid beetle collector with an insatiable curiosity and detective-like mind. A voracious reader, he taught himself several languages, taxonomy and was a gifted singer, guitarist and illustrator and by 17, had his first science article published. Motivated by his thirst for more knowledge and unable to be contained by his factory town, Bates set sail with his friend Alfred Wallace, in their early twenties, on the adventure of a lifetime across the ocean to the Amazon rainforest and a burning quest to prove if species change.
Wallace would stay for 4 years and Bates 11, both making significant contributions to evolutionary science. Adapting remarkably well to these extremely challenging surroundings, Bates ventured further up the Amazon with his pet monkey and guitar, and formed close relationships with the native tribes, speaking 10 of their languages and adopting their hunting and living ways in his own battle to survive.
Despite yellow fever, treacherous landslides, robbery, starvation, encounters with jaguars, army ants, poisonous snakes and insects, Bates perseveres and discovers the mind-boggling world of animal mimicry and camouflage. In this bizarre game of Hide and Seek, and through the vast stretches of evolutionary change, an animal takes on the look of another species or even an object, gaining an advantage in the competitive world of survival. As in any great detective story, audiences will experience the compelling clues Bates unravels – like bird faeces that walk and water droplets that fly and jungle cats that mimic the sound of a small monkey.
Near death, Bates had to leave his Amazon paradise and return to England. He arrived one month after Darwin published his highly controversial book “On the Origin of Species…”. Without convincing specimen proof for his theory of how species change, Darwin was under tremendous attack and ridiculed. Never could he imagine it would come from an uneducated man of Bates’ humble background. Darwin called Bates’ findings from the Amazon “the beautiful proof” for natural selection and included this evidence in all future editions of his book.
Wallace, Bates and Darwin would remain friends for life.
Amazon Adventure fits into curriculums worldwide and all educational materials meet Next Generation Science Standards.
It was filmed on location in London, Manchester, Charles Darwin’s Down House and the remote Brazilian rainforest, using the IMAX format to immerse viewers into a wild world of breathtaking beauty and captivating animal behaviour. Things are not always as they seem in the jungle and audiences will be mesmerised by an array nature’s masters of mimicry. From the makers of the immensely popular and multiple award-winning film Flight of the Butterflies 3D, the film is directed by Britain’s own Mike Slee and executive produced by Jonathan Barker and Sean B. Carroll, starring Calum Finlay as Henry Bates, written by Wendy MacKeigan and Carl Knutson and shot by UK cinematographers Gerry Vasbenter and Richard Kirby, with an original score by Brazilian composer Antonio Pinto. Although filming in the Amazon was very challenging, the team constantly reminded themselves of what it must have been like for Bates, without any of the transportation and communication technologies available today.
Painstakingly researched for three years, Amazon Adventure enlisted the expertise of more than 100 scientists and historical advisors. MacKeigan and Slee sought out over 400 pieces of original research, which enabled them to draft the most comprehensive and accurate script and cinematic visualisation of 19th century Amazonian exploration ever produced. “It’s an educational film so nothing was left to chance or uncorroborated” states MacKeigan. “What you will see is precisely the way it was for Bates.”
The team’s commitment to authenticity not only resulted in this rigorous re-creation, even using actual instruments and tools from the 1850s, but the writing team also incorporated many of Bates’ own words, as he was a gifted storyteller. The film, a co-production between Canada, the UK and Brazil, was granted unprecedented access by the Natural History Museum of London to film Bates’ own scientific field notebooks and botanical drawings, and to film the butterflies he personally collected over 160 years ago – butterflies that had never left the museum and had to go into quarantine for two weeks after filming.
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Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums