“Evil” images in At Play in the Fields of the Lord: evangelicals and representations of sexuality in contemporary film

  • Author(s): Todd Rendleman
  • When: 2000-09
  • Where: Velvet Light Trap
  • In December 1991, after three decades of various filmmakers and actors expressing interest in the project, Hector Babenco's long-awaited thirty-two-million-dollar adaptation of At Play in the Fields of the Lord finally arrived in American theaters. Based on Peter Matthiessen's acclaimed novel, the epic was filmed on location in Amazonia, starred a variety of popular actors, and was just over three hours in length. Contrary to the general opinion that Hollywood rarely explores the lives of religious characters, At Play portrayed four evangelical Christians whose religious beliefs inspire them to travel to Amazonia in an effort to convert members of the Niaruna tribe. Despite the long-standing interest in Matthiessen's novel, critical reactions to the film were decidedly mixed, and its box-office response was disappointing. Still, some reviewers described the film as a cultural marker regarding its critical representations of evangelical Christian religious identity.

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