An essential work of the Brazilian Cinema Novo movement, Rocha’s film may be difficult to get into at times, but its electrifying visual style and bold commitment to deconstructing politics and class remain revered.
Dir. Glauber Rocha
1967 | Brazil | Drama | 109 mins | 1.66:1 | Portuguese
Not rated – likely to be PG13 for mature theme
Cast: Jardel Filho, Paulo Autran, Jose Lewgoy
Plot: In the fictional Latin American country Eldorado, a poet tries to effect political change by influencing powerful men.
Awards: Won Grand Prize (Locarno); Won FIPRESCI Prize & Nom. for Palme d’Or (Cannes)
Source: Trigon Film
Subject Matter: Moderate – Sociopolitics
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: General Arthouse
It’s been a long while, but my continuing journey into world cinema finally made a stop at the Brazilian Cinema Novo (or New Cinema).
The movement, perhaps the most important one in Latin American cinema, is comparatively less well-known than European or Asian film movements, but its legacy, especially towards the development of Third Cinema—an underground revolutionary-style political filmmaking remains influential.
Here we have Glauber Rocha (one of the movement’s greatest exponents), whose Entranced Earth is a major work, dealing with the problems of power and class.
A poet, Paulo Martins, with a gift for sparking revolutionary resistance against corrupt power, works closely with a popularly-elected governor with ties to the ruling government run by an ultraconservative president.
The aim is to rally the masses, poor folks who have been continually exploited, to seek sociopolitical change and a new beginning for their country (a fictional one called Eldorado, but allusions to Brazil are obvious).
“The streets belong to the people, like the sky belongs to the condors.”
Rocha’s film is visually and aurally electrifying, with kinetic camera movements, breathtaking aerial shots, breaking of the fourth wall, the constant barrage of gunshots in the soundtrack, the carnivalesque scenes of celebration and dance, etc., contributing to its high-octane style.
It’s not always exhilarating though, with conversation-heavy parts centering on the characters’ deconstruction of the state of their politics heavy-handed, perhaps even dull, at some points.
We don’t get political crises here in Singapore, and South America is so far away, so it may not be easy to relate psychologically, or even emotionally, but having said that, the filmmaking is bold and direct.
There’s little nuance or subtlety as Rocha goes for a confrontational kind of cinema, yet being in Martin’s shoes, we get an acute sense that it is extremely complex—and most of the time futile— navigating between corrupt, unchecked power and a public blinded by false promises.