Title   Cast   Director   Year Shown  Other Info    Country  Notes 


Sri Lanka , 130 min

Shown in 1981


Lester James Peries
Prof. A.J. Gunawardene
Willie Blake
Nimal Mendis
Joe Abeywickerema, Malani Fonseka, Vijay Kumaranathunga, Henry Jayasena, Tony Ranasinghe, Trilicia Gunawardene, Arthur C. Clarke


prod co
Lester James Peries Productions
The Village in the Jungle

A fine cinematic adaptation of Leonard Woolf's novel, The Village in the Jungle is a work that is considered to be one of the best observations of Asian life written by a foreigner from the West. Woolf (husband of Virginia) had worked as a civil servant from 1904-11, in what was then the prized British colony of Ceylon (now independent Sri Lanka). In both novel and film, one sees a portrayal of life in a doomed jungle settlement in the arid areas of southern Sri Lanka. Peries, the leading film director in this country, established Sri Lankan cinema in 1957 with Rekava and over the years has proven that the rich culture of this country supplies uniquely dramatic material for films. The Village in the Jungle, well known in Sri Lanka, has been a pet project of Peries' for a decade. He wanted to capture the force of the book; the impossible economic conditions in which the villagers live and the terrifying surroundings of the jungle. Although the action occurs in the past, the customs of village life have not changed, and the interplay of human yearnings, exploitation, and superstition is timeless. A village patriarch has two marriageable daughters. He is deeply attached to them and stubbornly refuses to allow them to leave his home; there is always an excuse that they are too young to consider such matters. The situations that arise, overriding his desires and eventually bringing destruction to everyone, are evolved with the deterministic elements of folk drama and classic tragedy. Peries uses symbolism throughout the film, and the environment is beautifully enlivened by unusual images, emphasizing the luxuriant sensuality of the jungle and the beauty of the people themselves. "Is this what one hundred and fifty years of imperialism has brought to these people?" is the kind of thought the film should provoke, according to the director. The greater tragedy, however, is that after 40 years of independence, the villagers' life has not improved at all.

—Albert Johnson

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