is a film of contrasts as
legendary Hollywood character
Samuel Fuller persuades fellow
director Jim Jarmusch to join him
when he returns to South America
in 1993 to revisit the Karajá Indians
for the first time since he first met
them forty years before... DURING THE MID 1950s, Samuel Fuller (a film director whose credits include
Naked Kiss, Shock Corridor, Steel Helmet and Park Row)
went deep into the Brazilian jungle at the instigation of notorious Twentieth
Century Fox studio boss Darryl F Zanuck to find inspiration for a new film project
among the Karajá Indians. He found that the Karajá remained largely untouched
by the then 20th Century they went without clothes, painted their
bodies and had not yet learned the value of the dollar.
Although Sam returned to Hollywood with an idea for a movie called Tigrero
which was mooted as a vehicle for John Wayne, Ava Gardner and Tyrone
Power and with nature as one of the main characters the insurers considered
it far too dangerous to go on location in South America and the project was
What Sam did go back to Hollywood with was an intriguing film of the Karajá
at that time and a determination to one day go back to their village of Santa
Isabel do Morro. Tigrero is the fascinating account of his return with
companion Jim Jarmush (Night On Earth, Coffee And Cigarettes)
and the changes he finds that have occurred over the years.
by plane from Rio de Janeiro in September, 1993, Sam and Jim then travel by
canoe up the River Araguaia which in spite of the many changes around
it appears to remain much the same. The Karajá are river Indians and
therefore the Araguaia is of great importance to their culture. These indigenous
tribesmen are a wholly good society, fiercely protective of their children and
proud of their traditions.
Surprised to see so much of the bush cleared in what was almost impenetrable
jungle, Sam also finds that the Karajá are wearing western clothes and that
the youngsters covet American T-shirts. Sam is welcomed by the Indians, who
seem every bit as pleased to see him as he is to see them. They are very excited
by the prospect of watching the original footage that Sam shot and it is here
that we realise what changes have taken place for the Karajá and their environment.
The Karajá were delighted to see their friends and relatives alive once more
and thanked Sam with a dance in his honour.
Tigrero is a vision from the eyes of cigar-smoking Sam forty years
after his first visit when he was armed with a 16mm camera, a rifle and a Beretta
and the fresh eyes of Jim. It is a fascinating and beautiful journey
using both the original footage and a description of the potential Hollywood
film that never was.
Produced, written, edited and directed by Mika Kaurismäki (Zombie And The
Ghost Train), Tigrero is a must for the collection of any fan of
film, film history, anthropology or unique documentary cinema and was filmed
entirely on location at Santa Isabel do Morro, on Bananal Island, on the River
Araguaia, at the town of São Felix do Araguaia, Mato Grosso the biggest
jungle in Brazil and in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The natural and evocative music is by Nana Vasconcelos, Chuck Jonkey and The
Karajá and the Director of Photography is Jacques Cheuiche. The film was based
on an original idea by Christa Fuller-Lang and the Special Consultant on Karajá
Indians is Joäo Américo Peret.
Tigrero comes to DVD, courtesy of
Bluebell Films, on 17 November 2008. RRP: £14.99 | Running Time: 75 mins.
"Tigrero is a vision… a fascinating and beautiful journey…" Maggie