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.
BBFC rated 12
A bare bones dvd is available from Miramax