Brazilian cinema study

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Brazilian cinema study

Postby chris aberystwyth » Wed Jan 11, 2006 11:05 pm


i am currently undertaking a research project on contemporary brazilian cinema and its representations of cultural identity. i was hoping a few of you would be kind enough to give your own personal insights into the following films with an emphasis on 'identity', and also possibly films i have missed that you think may be relevant that are available on DVD in the UK

Central Station
City of God
Behind the Sun
Four Days in September
Man of the Year

Thank you and i look forward to reading your comments

chris aberystwyth

Re: Brazilian cinema study

Postby hengcs » Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:20 am

Hi chris

i have watched
- Central Station
- City of God
- Carandiru
and some other brazilian films not listed here

what exactly do you want us to comment on "identity"?
it can mean different things to different pple
e.g., individuals, religion, race/ethnicity, sense of belonging, etc


Re: Brazilian cinema study

Postby chris aberystwyth » Thu Jan 12, 2006 4:02 am

well the idea of a cultural identity essentially incorporates all those things, nationality, race, ethinicity, gender, sexuality, religion, traditions, language, history, sense of belonging etc. the aim of the study is to see how a Brazilian cultural identity is represented in the films.

So, for example, if you have seen several Barzilian films, as you have, what connections can you find between them? are there familiar themes that come up time and again? and if so what are these themes and how do they relate to Brazilian society? were you given any insight into Brazilian cinema?

Most films deal with these issues in some way, sometimes they are transparent and some times, as Bordwell once said, they work like an opaque veil hiding something underneath.

For example, with Central Station, the themes i felt it was commenting on were the role of the state and their neglect of children (leaving Josue to fend for himself when his mother dies), the role of the family (Josue wanting to search for his father), and the importance of religion (the pilgramage they encounter on their journey).

Hope this explains it a bit better.


chris aberystwyth

Re: Brazilian cinema study

Postby trevor826 » Thu Jan 12, 2006 9:01 am

Interesting, I'll see what I can add, I have seen the films you listed plus a few others.

Hope you're not in too much of a rush?

Cheers Trev.

Re: Brazilian cinema study

Postby chris aberystwyth » Thu Jan 12, 2006 9:55 am

not especially, over the next few weeks/months, il be interested to read your thoughts. i did a similar, smaller study in relation to contemorary spanish cinema last year, particularly Almodovar films, thats what studying a film course does to you!
chris aberystwyth

Re: Brazilian cinema study

Postby A » Fri Jan 13, 2006 1:36 am

I'm not very knowledgable when it comes to Brazilian films, and from the ones you mentioned I've only seen "City of God" and "Carandiru".
Besides their different styles, both films dealt with the opression of different minorities, be they immigrants, gays, women, or whatever, and the differencies between rich and poor. About the vicious circle you can't escape if you're born poor and have to live in a ghetto, and how this inevitably leads to criminality. How people lose their humanity in an opressive society, that just wants to get rid of these people, when they become too difficult to ignore. Identities are mostly shaped through a status, either in the society as a whole, or in a certain (peer?) group. The status depends mainly on power and possessions, and is usually achieved through violent behaviour. Individual human lives don't seem to count much, live as fast and excssessive as you can seems to be a favored motto. This includes taking what you want, as most things are available only for a small fraction of society. The oppressed people seem generally impatient, waiting for something to happen, while following individual, egocentrical interests. Also much drug abuse and sexual tension.
The country and its people seem torn between two opposing things.
What they wish from life (family, house, money - american dream) - what they get (nothing of it).
their imagined status (e.g.honorable criminal) - actual status (oppressed loser)
The society also seems dynamic (though it isn't), oriented towards the US and losing its own identity.
Poverty and stereotypes (self-imposed social restrictions) seem to dominate everything, and the persons although very individualistic, and seemingly doing what they want, are VERY restricted in their personal freedom (trhrough society but also through themselves!).
The state isn't a help, but more like an enemy for its citizens, more dictatorship than democracy. The line between policeman and criminal is only legal - illegal (no other issues involved).
I realize this is a messy assemblage, but I typed it down as stream-of-consciousness, and I've seen the films some time ago.
Hope it was at least a little help, though.

Re: Brazilian cinema study

Postby trevor826 » Thu Jan 19, 2006 5:01 pm

Just finished watching Walter Salles Behind the Sun again, I'll write a few comments later.

Cheers Trev

Re: Brazilian cinema study

Postby trevor826 » Fri Jan 20, 2006 12:02 pm

Behind the Sun (2001) Abril Despedaado

Directed by Walter Salles

Main cast Rodrigo Santoro (Carandiru), Ravi Ramos Lacerda

1910, a poverty stricken barren dust bowl named Stream of Souls, two families continuing a blood feud that has gone on longer than anyone can recall, and what for? This barren dry scrubland fit only for growing sugar cane.

The Breves family work hard morning till night, cutting and stripping the cane, boiling the residue till it solidifies and can be sold at the local village, father, mother and two sons in a repetitious cycle of hard labour, they have virtually nothing except their family honour. There were more, more sons, uncles etc but they have been lost in this never-ending feud with their neighbours, the Ferreira family.

The story is narrated by the youngest Breves son, only known as Kid, he suffered the trauma of being on his brothers shoulders when his life was taken, this still haunts him and his dreams, he knows that his other brother Tonio will be next as he has just taken his part in the cycle by killing the man who killed the older brother.

What can change or break the cycle? Certainly not the elders who totally dominate the households, to them its a matter of honour and this is more important to them than the lives of their sons, grandsons etc. not the mothers who cowtow to their husbands and indeed share the blood lust of revenge. The younger element (Breves certainly) have been brought up in this tradition, their world is small, barely extending to the local village, they are uneducated and illiterate, dominated by their strict fathers and supplicating mothers. They have also been raised to be wary of strangers, their land is their world, they live for it, theyll die for it.

Hope and change often spring from the unlikeliest sources, a pair of travelling performers stop and ask Kid for directions to the local village, hes totally enraptured by the girl especially when she gives him a book. Hes illiterate but the book has pictures and these spark his imagination. Tonio is enraptured by the girl as well and sneaks Kid away from their home to watch the performance. This is a life changing/ affirming event especially for Tonio who had resigned himself to following his kin, he decides to stay with the performers assured that hell be home in time for his funeral.

Kid is the one person who seems absolutely aware of the futility of the way they live, the cycle of waste and stupidity that cuts off life in its prime. He has a vibrant imaginative mind especially after receiving the book, he is the one person who has the will to break the cycle of death but can he, will he?

Tradition, honour and the fathers word as law are the main destructive forces in this tale, add to that the mothers constant praying for and to the souls of the dead, their unquestioning loyalty to their husbands above and beyond their love for the children they have borne. On top of all that there is the hardship and poverty of everyday life, all together a recipe for self-destruction.

The fact that the sons carry on this murderous tradition is down to the way they have been raised, its a normality, bred to kill and very likely to die at a young age. It takes a hell of a will and the loss of everything to step away from the madness. Love in any of its forms could make the difference and in the end, its brotherly love that may make the biggest difference of all.

Cheers Trev

BBFC rated 12

A bare bones dvd is available from Miramax

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