Sometimes, stories based in fact make for the most compelling movies. Sure, the ending is almost certainly not going to be a surprise, and the potential for plot twists is greatly diminished, but the true nature of the tale brings with it an inherent emotional investment from the audience that is really hard to beat. Put that type of project in the hands of an Academy Award winning filmmaker, and you have the chance of something very special indeed. These are the stakes for The Last Of The Tribe, now that Paul Haggis is circling the director’s chair.
Based on the book The Last Of The Tribe: The Epic Quest To Save A Lone Man In The Amazon – by the South American correspondent for the Washington Post, Monte Reel – the script for The Last Of The Tribe is written by Mark Bailey and the film is an independent project from Chockstone and Hypnotic. The source material is characterized as a “heart-pounding modern-day adventure” and details the efforts of a group of men working to protect the last remaining member of a previously undiscovered Amazonian tribe.
Several conflicts are involved in the story. First is an examination of the resentment held toward indigenous people by ranchers intent on exploiting their land by any means necessary. Second is an examination of the understandable reluctance exhibited by the lone tribesman to engage with outside society. Third is the local conflict with the constitution – the legalities of the framework of laws designed to protect indigenous people, their land and their cultures from giant, influential and powerful corporations, and those that would do great harm.
The events depicted in the story occurred in 1996 and are seen through the experience of the men working to save the tribesman. These men were a fascinating group – including individuals of a variety of ages that had spent years living with indigenous tribes, amassing vast amounts of experience in the Amazon jungle. Their work sees them attempting to communicate with the isolated man, as well as with the Brazilian Congress – all the while trying to preserve his right to live on his own land, in safety and free from interference.
Handled right, The Last Of The Tribe could be a powerful and riveting movie, highlighting a little acknowledged issue that has long faced the Amazon region. Whether Paul Haggis is the director to give that project form or not remains to be seen.