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A series of 4 programs on 5 DVDs
The Decade of Destruction

A unique chronicle of the destruction of the Amazonian rainforest.

A printer-friendly version of this page 272 minutes
Directed by Adrian Cowell
Produced by Adrian Cowell, Nomad Films Ltd

"Superb...should be blueprinted so that other documentary makers can imitate it." NY Daily News
This brilliant documentary series, produced by Adrian Cowell, and broadcast on PBS' "Frontline," chronicles the destruction of the Amazon rainforest - perhaps the 20th century's worst environmental disaster.

Imagine, if you will, that one of the world's great filmmakers was there to document the opening up of the American West in its most critical decade, and you will have some idea of the epic scale of this remarkable series.

Amazonia is the last great frontier. Cowell began filming in 1980 when it was first opened up to settlers and developers. He has documented the systematic destruction of the rainforest there into late 1990 when for the first time there was an indication that the fires were being brought under control.

Each episode follows the real life stories of people caught up in the frontier's web of need and greed, stories of personal tragedy and great courage. The programs relate the individual's struggle to the wider developments going on around them. Together they illustrate the principal issues of Amazonia during the 1980s - its decade of greatest destruction.

The titles in the series are:

In the Ashes of the Forest - Part 1 - Saga of two colonists in the Amazon rainforest.

In the Ashes of the Forest - Part 2 - Concludes the Amazon colonists' saga.

Killing for Land - Squatters face off against gunmen hired by absentee landlords in the Amazon.

Mountains of Gold - Gold mining in the Amazon is a dangerous and dirty business.

The Killing of Chico Mendes - The story of rainforest defender, Chico Mendes, that ended with his 1988 assassination.

(Cowell's Banking on Disaster is a distillation of some of the material in this series.)

Other films produced by Adrian Cowell are The Last of the Hiding Tribes series and The Heroin Wars series.

Grade Level: 9-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 1990     Copyright Date: 1990
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-329-3     VHS ISBN: 1-56029-027-7

"A sobering true story of human rapacity, The Decade of Destruction: The Indians is highly recommended for classroom viewing, along with the rest of The Decade of Destruction series: The Rainforest, The Colonists, The Development Road, The Rubber Tappers, and The Politicians."
The Midwest Book Review

"The achievement of documentary filmmaker Adrian Cowell's The Decade of Destruction cannot be overestimated."
Los Angeles Times

"Superb...should be blueprinted so that other documentary makers can imitate it."
NY Daily News

"The passage of time, documented so fastidiously by Cowell and his film what makes The Decade of Destruction so powerful, and so potentially frightening."
David Bianculli, New York Post

"No fictional miniseries could contain as much sweeping tragedy, irony, suspense and callous violence; viewers who caught episode one will have to be dragged from their sets to miss the rest."

"Despite differences in language and climate, Cowell has given us a family album. Here is our own North American history, the taming of the West, the destruction of native peoples, the heroism and hardship of settlers

Select your institution type

DVDs include public performance rights.

Awards and Festivals
Founders Award, International EMMY Awards

Climate Change/Global Warming
Developing World
Forests and Rainforests
Human Rights
Indigenous Peoples
International Studies
Latin American Studies
Natural Resources
Social Justice

Related Titles

The Decade of Destruction - Classroom Version
The story of the destruction of the Amazonian rainforest.

Arrows Against the Wind
The Dani and the Asmat come face to face with the modern world in Irian Jaya.

Blowpipes and Bulldozers
The story of the Penan, a tribe of rainforest nomads in Borneo, as seen by Bruno Manser.

Secrets of the Choco
The Choco rainforest in Colombia faces development. What is the best option?

The Shaman's Apprentice
Ethnobotanist Mark Plotkin's quest to preserve the ancient wisdom of Amazonian shamans.

... more Reviews

and the gambling of a whole wild land on the chance of supporting a population that the cities could not absorb."
The Boston Globe

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