Dr. Simon Mayo, um dos personagens do documentário, botânico e amigo de Margaret Mee, redigiu uma bela carta, após a exibição de "Margaret Mee and the Moonflower" no 5th Brazilian Film Festival of London, à diretora Malu de Martino.  

"Dear Malu,

The film was really great and brought it all back. The connection that Margaret had with Brazilian botanists was always important - something that Burle Marx also had a lot to do with; his famous sunday lunches used to bring together paisagistas, artists, architects with scientists - especially botanists. Margaret's stuff sat into that mix - I think that easy mixture of art and science is a strong feature of Brazil's intellectual climate that maybe isn't so good over here where arts and science treat each other as foreigners. Or have until very recently. 

Another thing I felt after watching your film was how Margaret's life was still in that period when exploring the Amazon was a real adventure for anybody - not just foreigners - still possible to imagine it all as the Ur-Forest - timeless wilderness unconquerable by man. Maybe this explains the anguish people feel when they see it going. It's like the loss of a childhood dream and a real spiritual violation. It's kind of tough on Brazil to be the country where most of this dream world still exists, because to the practical minds of politicians and businessmen and no doubt huge numbers of ordinary citizens, the Amazon represents concrete wealth, room for the increasing population, an area as big as the rest of the nation where one can visulaize in the future huge cities, and millions of people, industry etc etc. A Brazil doubled in size and power and wealth. The death of the Amazon forest is going to be an even bigger drama than what has preceded it, and Brazil will be right in the centre of the world's focus as it happens. Wait for it!

The people from Rio and Sao Paulo who ended up in the Amazon were propelled by much the same obsessions as the gringos, it's just they usually got less publicity and they tended to stay longer, being their own country! Many (most?) of the key Brazilian botanists who pioneered studies in the Amazon were not Amazonians. e.g. Barbosa Rodrigues, Joao Murca Pires, William Rodrigues, Adolfo Ducke, Emilio Goeldi, etc. Amazonians doing their own amazonian botany is only really beginning to happen on any scale right now, I would hazard, with the gradual development of university postgraduate courses. Much of the Amazon biodiversity is still very poorly known and there are plenty of opportunities for new explorers.

It continues to be an electric drama. Did you ever see the series of tv films by Adrian Cowell on the Amazon - back in the 80s I think, maybe early 90s. Lutzemberger - then mInister for the environment - was in one of them. Cowell caught the drama really well - very moving.

Your film encapsulates this personal effect - the magnetism - and the way Margaret's art and her personality acted as a medium for us to thrill at the drama of the wilderness while somehow mourning its loss even as we first feel its power. Set this against the experience of those days when the desbravadores were the heroes. For a puny man to contemplate the felling of a giant forest then seemed to be a work fit better for a Hercules than an ordinary person. Today we know it can be done - quite easily. In 1820 it would have seemed almost impossible. There's a drama here too, it seems to me, and it's part of Brazil's own history. For those people beauty was the cleared land and the primary forest seemed a fearsome chaos. How things have changed with technology!

Many Brazilian biologists (as well as the ones from elsewhere) undertake adventurous expeditions in the Amazon and in other parts of the country, running the risks and experiencing the ectasies of those special moments in nature which only firsthand experience can give you and which you showed through Margaret's diary. Some of your interlocutors are such people, e.g. Gustavo and Fabio. Burle Marx again played a part in this it seems to me, because to make his compositions of plants he used Brazil's native flora, and to do that he had to get in his truck and explore Brazil's forests - in his case the Mata Atlantica. This was, in its way, a major innovation of attitude. 

Well, Malu, it was a wonderful experience. Real pity that Prance wasn't there. 

By the way, I know the film isn't avaliable for purchase, but if there is some way you could eventually make a copy available to the Kew Library that would be really great, because they have probably the most important archive for Margaret Mee's work and I expect they would keep it confidential until such time as it could be available more widely.

All the very best
Simon "



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