© 1987
The Moonflower Story
Her life embraced art, politics, the threatened environment and a quest for a very elusive Amazon flower. Most of all all Margaret was an brilliant story-teller .
How the Moonflower journey was recorded

© All the material is the copyright of either South American Pictures, Nonesuch Expeditions or both
The original story was simple. It was about Margaret Mee and her life beginning with her background in England to the moment of fulfilling her greatest ambition. After many political adventures in Europe and Brasil she wanted to paint the night flowering cactus Selenicereus wittii in the night-shrouded heart of an Amazon forest. The story of the search and the painting that has become known as the Moonflower is told elsewhere on this site. In preparation for the story Tony Morrison made many voice-only tapes as Margaret related her experiences. They are the only such recordings of her at ease.

The first set of voice tapes were made with the help of Bob Nadkarni a professional sound recordist and film maker with his own Brasilian company based in Rio de Janeiro. As a young media person Bob worked on Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, before setting out for a career in television.

Bob used a Nagra recorder and broadcast quality microphones. These voice tapes include Margaret Mee's memories of early days in São Paulo. Bob who is also an artist had lived in Rio for some years and knew her socially through her exhibitions and other gatherings. After Margaret's death Bob also made short pieces of film for Tony particularly at a memorial ceremony held in the Rio's superb Jardim Botânico, [Botanical Garden].  The ceremony was attended by many of her friends and particularly by Roberto Burle Marx, the internatioanally famous Brasilian landscape designer.

 Tony Morrison's preparation for the film and the book later given the title 'In Search of Flowers of the Amazon Forests' continued through early 1988 at all hours of the day and often into the night. More voice recordings were made on a small personal recorder with excellent quality and these are of random subjects occasionally punctuated by the sounds of household activity. Tony also created a time-lapse sequence of the flower opening.

The' pilot' sequences for the proposed film were made by Brian Sewell a noted cameraman and director who has his own Brasilian based film company. Brian used a brodacast quality camera to record on Betacam tapes - the standard in those years in the NTSC format. Seven tapes were made including one of Margaret Mee introducing the viewer to the environmental problems facing Amazonia.

In 1989, the year after Margaret's death Brian also filmed the Return to the Moonflower journey when Greville Mee, her widower made his first Amazon journey. This report was made on professional Eastmancolour 16mm negative film.


In November 1988 on Thanksgiving Day in the USA Margaret was interviewed by Robert MacNeil for the MacNeil-Lehrer Hour on PBS. His long and friendly televised meeting was illustrated with short clips from the tapes made for the pilot film which are also copyright material. A transcript and streaming video of the interview are available elsewhere on the web.

Note : In the interview Margaret refers to a planned return to the Amazon forest - that was said cautiously as the she was aware the idea for a tv film was not widely known.

When Margaret died the story came to an abrupt halt. Ideas were tossed about for using a narrator or another woman traveller to lead the way through Margaret Mee's Amazon. Margaret had been such an remarkably talented person with a flair for acting so without her the plot could not be the same. Clips of the sound and video are on this site - see the menu [left].

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