Jungle Cruise Plot
Don Aguirre leads a group of Spanish conquistadors to South America in 1556 in search of the Lágrimas de Cristal[b] Tree, whose blossoms are said to cure illness, heal injuries, and lift curses. The Puka Michuna tribe treats the sickened survivors with the Tree’s blooms after many conquistadors die. Aguirre stabs the tribal leader and burns the hamlet when he refuses to give the location of the Tree. The conquistadors are cursed by the dying chief, who makes them eternal and unable to leave sight of the Amazon River without being dragged back by the bush.
Dr. Lily Houghton’s Tears of the Moon research is presented to the Royal Society in London in 1916 by her brother MacGregor. The Houghtons request access to a freshly acquired arrowhead artifact, intending to transform both medicine and the British War effort, but their request is denied because the Tree is considered myth and female scientists are disliked. Lily grabs the arrowhead and her old Amazon map, believing they are the key to finding the Tree, narrowly avoiding Prince Joachim, who is similarly bent on discovering the Tree for Germany.
When Lily and MacGregor arrive in the First Brazilian Republic, they look for a guide to help them navigate the Amazon River. They hire Frank Wolff, a skipper who conducts jungle trips complete with staged perils and cheesy puns. He initially declines, noting the river’s and jungle’s risks. When Frank sees the arrowhead, he thinks twice. After fleeing Joachim’s U-boat, Frank reclaims his repossessed boat engine from harbormaster Nilo, and the trio departs.
Lily discovers images and sketches of current technology, as well as study on the Tears of the Moon, in Frank’s cabin. She accuses him of attempting to find the Tree, but he claims to have given up long ago. They are kidnapped and disguised as cannibals by the Puka Michuna tribe, but they are swiftly released because they were hired by Frank. Lily becomes enraged and begins to question Frank. Trader Sam, the tribal chief, deciphers the symbols on the arrowhead, revealing the Tree’s location and the fact that it blooms only under a blood moon.
Meanwhile, Joachim has discovered the petrified conquistadors inside a cave. In exchange for flowers, he persuades them to find the arrowhead for him. He reanimates them by diverting the water and fusing them with jungle elements. The conquistadors track down and battle the tribe, where Aguirre stabs Frank in the heart. Lily runs with the item, but as the Spaniards lose sight of the river while pursuing her, vines lure them away.
Frank reappears, much to the surprise of the Houghtons. He confesses that he is one of the cursed conquistadors who once wished to help Aguirre save his paralyzed daughter by finding the Tears. In the face of Aguirre’s rampage, he sided with the tribe. After years of struggle, he petrified his vengeful colleagues by trapping them away from the river’s view. Frank became a tour guide and founded a community after failing to find the Tree.
Lily and Frank continue their journey to the La Luna Rota[c] Waterfall, where they find a submerged temple. In the meantime, Joachim has kidnapped MacGregor and forced him to reveal Lily’s whereabouts. When La Luna Rota’s water is largely drained, Frank, the Houghtons, the Germans, and the conquistadors all congregate around the Tree.
Lily fits the two pieces into carvings in the bark after discovering the arrowhead is a locket with a crimson gem within, and the Tree blossoms temporarily beneath the blood moon. Lily recovers one bloom during the fight. To save Lily, the German soldiers drown, Joachim is crushed by a falling boulder, and Frank crashes his boat into the river, petrifying himself and the rest of the conquistadors. Lily sacrifices the flower to lift Frank’s curse and restore his mortality, and he decides to leave the Amazon to be with her, realizing her true emotions for him. A single flower blooms from the moon’s final beam, which Lily collects for investigation. Frank sells his firm to Nilo when he returns to the port.
Lily becomes a full professor at the University of Cambridge after their successful return to the United Kingdom. The Royal Society invites MacGregor to join, but he declines. After that, Lily and Frank go sightseeing in London together.