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Film / Jungle

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Jungle is a 2017 Australian biographical survival drama film, based on the true story of Israeli adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg's 1981 journey into the Amazon rainforest. Directed by Greg McLean and written by Justin Monjo, the film stars Daniel Radcliffe as Ghinsberg, with Alex Russell, Thomas Kretschmann, Yasmin Kassim, Joel Jackson, and Jacek Koman in supporting roles.

In the pursuit of self-discovery and authentic experiences, the Israeli backpacker, Yossi Ghinsberg, meets a cryptic Austrian geologist in La Paz, Bolivia, and captivated by his engrossing stories of lost tribes, uncharted adventures, and even gold, decides to follow him, circa 1981. Without delay and accompanied by the good friends, Kevin, an American photographer, and Marcus, a Swiss teacher, they join an expedition led by their seasoned trail-leader, deep into the emerald and impenetrable Amazonian rainforest. However, as the endless and inhospitable jungle separates the inexperienced team, before long, Yossi will find himself stranded in the depths of a nightmarish environment crawling with formidable and tireless adversaries. How can one escape this green maze?

Tropes in Jungle include:

  • #1 Dime: Yossi carries a small Kabbalistic text given to him by his uncle which he believes keeps him safe. He eventually loses it in the quicksand.
  • Aerosol Flamethrower: Yossi improvises a flamethrower out of a can of bug spray and a lighter to scare off a jaguar.
  • Agony of the Feet: First Marcus's, and later Yossi's, feet are almost destroyed by jungle rot, making it extremely painful for them to walk.
  • The Atoner: Kevin—who had turned into a Jerkass during the Doomed Expedition—becomes this after he is rescued from the river. Recognizing that his actions were largely responsible for the accident that stranded Yossi in the jungle, Kevin does everything in his power to find Yossi: refusing to give up even when everyone else tells him that the search is helpless.
  • Based on a True Story: The film is based on Yossi Ghinsberg's memoir recounting his ordeal of survival of being lost in the Bolivian jungle for several weeks. Most of the changes are for the sake of pacing, and several events were actually cut out of the narrative.
  • Bedouin Rescue Service: The Amazon equivalent happens when local fishermen pull Kevin's barely alive body out of the river and take him back to their village. Yossi is not so lucky and spends three weeks hacking his way through the jungle.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: When Yossi is tossed into the river after the raft smashes, he hits his head on a rock. Blood flows out and surrounds his head like a halo.
  • Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb: This happens to Yossi when he is attempting to climb the wall of the canyon above the rapids after the raft is wrecked. A loose rock pulls out and he slides most of the way back down the wall before he manages to catch himself and start climbing back up.
  • Delicious Daydream: While starving in the jungle, Yossi dreams he is in a fast-food restaurant where he is given a tray loaded down with food (and the gorgeous cashier flirts with him). However, he wakes up before he can eat any of it.
  • Determinator: Yossi is stranded in one of the most hostile environments on Earth, weeks away from the nearest civilization, and with almost nothing in the way of resources. He determines to walk his way out. And succeeds.
  • Dream Sequence: Yossi has two elaborate dream sequences while is going mad from hunger. In the first, he is at a fast-food restaurant and gets loaded up with a ridiculous amount of fast food. In the second, he is a high roller at a casino and gets woken up just as he is about to have sex with Amie.
  • Food Slap: Yossi's dream of being in the casino ends with Aime pouring two glasses of champagne in his face. He wakes to the torrential rain pouring down into his face.
  • Forgot I Couldn't Swim: Not so much 'forgot' as 'not wanting to lose face', but Kurt agrees to Kevin's suggestion of building a raft and travelling downriver. He even claims to be an expert rafter and insists on steering the raft. However, after their first encounter with rapids, Kevin deduces that Kurt is terrified and actually cannot swim. This leads to the argument where Kevin and Yossi decide to continue downriver and Kurt and Marcus decide to hike back to Apolo.
  • Gambler Groupies: When Yossi has the fantasy of being in a casino, he is flanked by beautiful women: one dressed as a showgirl and one as a socialite.
  • Going in Circles: Yossi finds a fresh boot print in the mud and is ecstatic because he thinks he must be close to another person. Then he sees the shells from the eggs he had eaten earlier and checks the print against his own boot. He then breaks down as he realizes he has been walking in a circle.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Yossi is in danger of this the longer he is in the jungle. At his lowest ebb, his subconscious creates an Imaginary Friend in the form of a woman from one of the native tribes. The real Yossi has stated that, at the time, he absolutely believed this woman existed, and the idea that he was protecting her was what kept him going.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: While bathing in the river in the Indian village, Yossi, Marcus, and Kevin discover that they have attracted an audience of all of the females in the village, with one old woman taking a particular interest in Kevin's junk (as he puts it). The three men hurriedly cup their hands over their privates.
  • Hanging by the Fingers: Yossi slips while climbing the cliff out of the canyon. He slides most of the way back down before managing to grab hold of a handhold. He is left dangling above the river by his fingers.
  • Hard-to-Light Fire: It takes multiple attempts, and several agonizing seconds, for Yossi's lighter to light when he is attempting to ignite his Aerosol Flamethrower.
  • Hungry Jungle: The jungle comes across a living organism looking to devour him. It even literally 'swallows' him twice: once in the river, and once in the quicksand. Kurt sums it up best:
    The jungle shows us what we really are. We're nothing. We're a joke. God fucked up.
  • Imaginary Friend: At the greatest depth of his Sanity Slippage, Yossi believes that he is being accompanied by a native woman he finds abandoned in the jungle. Believing that he is caring for someone else is enough to keep him pushing forward.
  • I Was Having Such a Nice Dream: Yossi is having a dream where he is a high roller in a casino. After a huge win, Aime drags him off and throws him down on the bed. She straddles him and pours two glasses of champagne over his face. This wakes him up and he discovers the torrential rain has penetrated his shelter and is trickling down into his face. The river is also rising and is about to flood him out.
  • Jerkass: When the jungle trek starts turning into a Doomed Expedition, Kevin's obnoxious side comes out. He is willing to abandon Marcus when his feet mean that he cannot keep up and becomes an ugly American. However, when he is rescued from the river, he becomes The Atoner and does everything within his power to rescue Yossi.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: In one scene, we see a pair of Oriental pied hornbills; these birds are native to India, Bangladesh and Southeast Asia, not South America.
  • Mysterious Past: Kurt drops a number of mysterious hints about his past and his reasons for being in Bolivia, including hints that he was a revolutionary. Given later revelations, it seems likely that at least some of this was made up in an attempt to seem impressive and romantic, but, like most things regarding Kurt, his true past will remain a Riddle for the Ages.
  • Nice Guy: Marcus is loved by everyone and Yossi describes him as having the personality of a saint. It is an early sign of how the jungle is affecting their minds when Yossi and Kevin start snapping at him after his feet become infected, something Yossi only realises much later (and much too late).
  • One-Word Title
  • Outdoor Bath Peeping: While bathing in the river in the Indian village, Yossi, Marcus, and Kevin turn around to discover every female in the village is watching them. Cue Hand-or-Object Underwear.
  • Quicksand Sucks: Yossi stumbles in a patch of quicksand and is soon stuck in it up to his neck. He manages to escape by grabbing an overhanging branch and dragging himself out, but he loses his backpack and his lucky charm.
  • Reverse Psychology: Skillfully employed by Yossi to make Marcus decide to accompany Kurt overland rather than going with Kevin on the raft.
  • River of Insanity: The trip into Bolivia's jungle initially goes well, but cracks quickly begin to show. Eventually, the group splits in two: with Marcus and Kurt attempting to hike back to civilization, while Kevin and Yossi plan to raft down the river. Neither group fares well. Marcus and Kurt are never heard from again, while the raft is wrecked and Yossi is lost in the jungle for weeks, nearly starving and going insane in the process.
  • Robinsonade: Yossi spends three weeks lost in The Amazon Rainforest and barely survives the ordeal.
  • Sanity Slippage: Yossi's mental state is slowly degrading almost from the start of the trek into the jungle. However, once he is stranded by himself in the jungle, he goes downhill rapidly. At his lowest point, he creates an Imaginary Friend.
  • Scenery Porn: Early parts of the film feature many spectacular shots of the Amazon wilderness. However, once Yossi is stranded in the jungle, it shifts from being a thing of wonder and becomes a Hungry Jungle.
  • Self-Surgery: Alone in the jungle, Yossi has to treat every injury he receives himself. This includes cutting a parasitic worm out of his forehead.
  • Too Desperate to Be Picky: Yossi is lost in the jungle and starving and willing to eat anything he can get his hands on in order to survive. Best demonstrated when he cracks open two eggs he found and eats the unhatched baby birds he finds inside. He forces them down, bones and all. He is visibly disgusted by his actions but does it anyway.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Kurt proves to be nowhere near the seasoned jungle guide he claims to be. The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue reveals that he was wanted by the police and that the lost tribe he claimed to know did not exist. His motives for leading Yossi, Marcus, and Kevin into the jungle remain a Riddle for the Ages.
  • When It Rains, It Pours: Justified as it established that the characters have three weeks to complete their trek before the rainy season starts. When Marcus complains about a heavy rainstorm, their guide Kurt tells them that compared to the rainy season, this is a light shower. Yossi is separated from the group and lost in the jungle for several weeks, meaning that he is in the jungle during the rainy season and every rainstorm is a torrential downpour.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Onscreen epilogues reveal what Yossi and Kevin did after they escaped the jungle. It is also revealed that Marcus and Kurt were never seen again.