At Play in the Fields of the Lord (film)

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At Play in the Fields of the Lord (film)
Year Released: 1991
MPAA Rating (USA): R
Director: Hector Babenco
Starring: Tom Berenger
John Lithgow
Daryl Hannah
Niilo Kivirinta

Christian missionaries Martin and Hazel Quarrier (Aidan Quinn and Kathy Bates) and their blond haired blue eyed 10 year old son Billy (Niilo Kivirinta) travel deep into the Jungles of South America to save souls for Jesus. As you might imagine not all goes according to plan. As prudish Kathy Bates is attempting to teach the native women about modesty and instill some sense of body shame little Niilo befriends a group of about eight naked and stunningly beautiful native boys ages 8 to 12.

The children's nudity is natural and yet it doesn't seem entirely innocent. For some strange reason one of the young native boys had used a bit of string to tie his foreskin to what looks like a thin belt fashioned from grass thus holding his penis upright. I was unclear if this was done for comfort to prevent his penis from slapping his balls as he ran or if it was some sort of sexual fetish.

Alas all good things must come to an end. Bates freaks out when she sees her darling son naked with some of his nude Indian friends watching two natives screw. (In the book written by Peter Matthiessen in 1965 Niilo's character engages in mutual masturbation with his young male friend).

Macauly Caulkin was originally cast in this role but his father pulled him and had him work on another role which would offer the, then rising star, more visibility, The Good Son.


A pair of Americans, Lewis Moon and Wolf, become stranded in Mãe de Deus (Portuguese: Mother of God), an outpost in the deep Brazilian Amazon River basin, after their plane runs out of fuel.

The local police commander wants the Niaruna tribe, living upriver, to move their village so they won't be killed by gold miners moving into the area and cause trouble for him with the provincial government. The commander cuts a deal with Moon: if he and his fellow mercenary would bomb the Niaruna village from the air and drive them away, they will be given enough gasoline for their airplane to be allowed to leave.

Born-again Christian evangelist (and missionary) Martin Quarrier and his wife Hazel arrive with their son Billy, here to spread the Christian gospel to the primitive Niaruna indigenous natives. They arrive in Mãe de Deus to meet fellow missionaries Leslie and Andy Huben, who live with a civilized Niaruna helper. In town, they meet a Catholic priest who wants to re-establish a mission to the Niarunas, as the former missionary was killed by them.

Moon and Wolf leave in their plane to attack the Niaruna. But upon seeing the community with his own eyes as well as an Indian firing an arrow at the plane, Moon has second thoughts. The plane returns to Mãe de Deus.

That night, after a discussion with Wolf, Quarrier and the priest, Moon takes an Indian drug and becomes hallucinatory. He takes off alone in his plane and parachutes into the Niaruna village. Moon, a half-Native American Cheyenne, aligns himself with the Niarunas. He is accepted as "Kisu-Mu", one of the Niaruna gods, and begins to adapt to Niaruna life and culture.

The four evangelicals travel upriver to establish their mission. Indians originally converted by the Catholics turn up, awaiting the arrival of the Niaruna. Eventually they do come and accept the gifts that the Quarriers offer, not staying long.

Young Billy dies of blackwater fever (a serious complication of malaria), causing Hazel to lose her sanity. She is returned to Mãe de Deus. Martin becomes despondent, arguing with Leslie and gradually losing his faith.

Moon encounters Andy swimming nude. After they kiss, Moon catches her cold. He returns to the Niaruna camp and inadvertently infects everyone there. Much of the tribe becomes sick. Moon and the tribe's leaders go to the missionary Leslie to beg for drugs.

Leslie refuses, but Martin agrees to provide the drugs. He travels to the Niaruna village with the missionaries' young helper. In the village, after Martin speaks with Moon, helicopters arrive to begin bombing. Martin survives the bombing, but is killed by his civilized helper soon thereafter. Moon is exposed not as a god but as a man. He runs, ending up alone.[1]


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