Remember that movie about the natives who lived in sacred trees whose lives were interrupted by a human intruder, working with a team to destroy their home forest for their own financial benefit? I mean, 17 years before Avatar hit the box office. This was even before Pocahontas showed us how to paint with all the colours of the wind. In 1992, FernGully: The Last Rainforest beat both these films to deliver its enviro-message.
This was exactly what made this film so ahead of its time. We all heard the dissenters following Al Gore’s pleas in An Inconvenient Truth. More than a decade earlier, you can imagine how much tougher it was to get the message across. But speaking to little children with hungry minds to feed was a clever approach, especially when most children’s films at the time were about princesses. Ok, so this film didn’t steer clear from of romance either, at least this relationship was somewhat bi-racial. Y’know, fairy-human love.
In the last existing rain forest in the world lives a community of fairies, who believe that humans have become extinct. Of course, they aren’t. And they’re about to deforest the fairy world. But when fairy Crysta (Samantha Mathis) tests her magic out on human Zak (Jonathan Ward) and shrinks him down to fairy size, there’s a glimmer of hope (there kind of needs to be in a kids’ movie).
What helps making this film enchanting is its use of light and colour, creating interesting shadows and beams, much like Avatar, but far less advanced. Fairies flicker through the forest with glowing blue and green trails, the sun shoots through branches and leaves and the forest is vibrant with flowers.
There’s also darkness in a purely evil, slithery force. Years ago, elder Magi Lune (Grace Zabriskie) trapped Hexxus (Tim Curry) in a tree but when deforesters slice the tree down, his gooey, dark being is brought back to life. And as a dark, billowing creature with hollow white eyes, he’s almost as frightening as The Nightmare Before Christmas‘ Oogie Boogie. Curry’s rich voice is the perfect compliment.