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Glauber Rocha, giornalista e documentarista, esordisce con
Barravento (1961), opera corale ambientata in un villaggio di
pescatori, ma poi ripudiata.
Deus E O Diabo Na Terra Do Sol (1964) e` un poema amaro e
disperato ambientato nel Noreste.
Un vaccaro uccide il padrone che lo tiranneggia e fugge con la moglie.
Incontrano un santone che quasi lo convince a uccidere due bambini come
scongiuro, ma la donna trattiene il marito e uccide invece il santone.
Si uniscono poi alla banda di un famigerato cangaceiro.
Il vaccaro fa carriera come taglieggiatore e sicario nella lotta contro
i proprietari terrieri, ma il mercenario Antonio das Mortes, pagato da questi,
uccide il capo-banda e i due contadini riprendono il loro vagabondaggio.
Con questo film Rocha conia un'estetica della violenza (truce effettismo,
allegoria, primitivismo epico, nervosismo figurativo) che vede il popolo
vittima del capitalismo latifondista e descrive con amaro pessimismo
la sua ricerca di giustizia. La fame e la sconfitta di ogni tentativo di
ribellione sono il destino di questi diseredati storici.
la figura-simbolo del santone, del bandito e del killer tracciano la parabola
della sconfitta; superstizioni ataviche e controproducenti, strumentalizzazione
dei loro impulsi rivoluzionari, la macchina repressiva, feroce e invincibile
Rocha si pone a capo del cinema novo con il suo stile polemico, fatto di slogan
suggestivi, fortemente politicizzati, anti-populisti, barbaro.
Terra Em Transe (1967) riflette la sfiducia degli intellettuali
latino-americani: un giovane che lotta contro la corruzione e non accetta
compromessi si suicida quando scopre di aver involontariamente aiutato
i golpisti. La generosa utopia di giustizia mostra un risvolto patetico.
Il film e` anzi una denuncia della classe degli intellettuali e del loro
Dragao da Maldade Contra o Santo Guerreiro/ Antonio Das Mortes (1969) riprende il tono della leggenda popolare
per comporre una allegoria sul regime dittatoriale contemporaneo.
Un bandito si e` schierato dalla parte dei contadini e neppure la polizia
riesce a sgominare il suo esercito. Viene allora ingaggiato un celebre
mercenario, che in breve scova il bandito e lo uccide; ma poi si pente,
passa dalla parte degli insorti, prende il posto del defunto, e guida i
contadini alla guerra, facendo strage dei padroni e dei loro servi.
L'estetica della violenza rinnova i suoi fasti in un tripudio di scene
barbariche, inondate di sangue e di urla, un'orgia sfrenata di ferocia
il film e` altresi` gremito di figure simboliche di contorno (il mago,
il maestro, la santa), attinte dal mito del folklore, che contribuiscono
a chiarine la missione ideologica: una rivoluzione saldamente ancorata
ai valori di un popolo che e` vissuto nella piu` miserabile delle condizioni.
In seguito Rocha ha scelto la strada dell'esilio volontario: in Congo per un
cine-poema didattico, in Spagna per un apologo contro il potere, etc.
A Idade De Terra (1980) abbandona invece l'intransigenza
Deus e o Diablo na Terra do Sol/ White God Black Devil (1963)
is set in the 1930s. Its real protagonist is the landscape, the desolate
and dry sertao from which poverty and violence originate.
In this age there are still echoes of some historical tragedies.
The "Canudos" was a millenarian
movement founded in 1893 by Antonio Conselheiro. In 1897 the army massacred
the entire community in Monte Santo:
The story became
famous after Euclides da Cunha's "Os Sertoes" (1903) reported it; and
Mario Vargas Llosa's
"The War of the End of the World" is about that massacre.
The second half of the film takes place three days after the social bandit Lampiao was betrayed by some of his men and killed by the army (1938).
Lampiao's gang was beheaded and the soldiers took a gruesome picture of the
heads. Finally (and not a tragedy), Father Cicero
was a priest who in 1872 founded a religious community in Juazeiro.
The film is a strange blend of history and surrealism, of Italian neorealism
and Greek tragedy, of mythology and western movie.
The other protagonist, besides the landscape, at least in the first half, is
Rosa, the woman who hardly ever talks but is shocked and puzzled by what happens
around her. She is "us", a viewer, a spectator, who cannot comprehend the
fanatics and the superstition. She is also a sort of Greek heroine in that she
desperately clings to her man who is hopelessly falling into madness.
Later she becomes a madwoman herself.
Manoel has just lost a horse, a symbol of exteme poverty. He rides his other
horse home in the dry sertao. Along the way he meets a religious procession
led by a saint. He circles around the group and realizes this is the famous
Sebastian who claims to have predicted the drought. Manoel tells his wife Rosa
about the miracle man, but she is indifferent, too busy with the heavy
chores of the farm. Manoel tells the landowner that he lost eight cows to
snakebites, but the landowner has no mercy. Manoel is ruined. Manoel, desperate,
kills the landowner and then rides home, chased by two men. He kills both of
them, but not before one of them manages to kill his old and sick mother.
Manoel and Rosa flee the farm and join the crowd that follows Sebastian,
who is taking them to a promised land of sorts, a holy island that will
emerge out of the sertao. Rosa is skeptic and annoyed
that Manoel believes in the saint but has not choice. The crowd keeps growing
as they march through villages and forcibly convert villagers. Rosa stares
speechless at the hysterical people praying with the saint.
Rosa, knowing that sooner or later the soldiers will come,
tries in vain to talk sense to Manoel.
In fact, the church and the landowners are hiring Antonio to get rid of
Sebastian's movement. Antonio is torn: he believes that Sebastian is truly
a saint, but, at the same time, he is tempted by the money and feels that
his destiny is to kill Sebastian's followers. Meanwhile, Manoel has become
Sebastian's most faithful and fervent disciple, ready to do anything for him.
Rosa is getting more desperate, unable to make sense of what is going on around
her. Manoel carries a heavy stone on his head, crawling towards a chapel with
the saint. Rosa is seized and thrown in the chapel.
Sebastian wakes up Manoel, who has collapsed in the chapel next to the big
stone. Sebastian tells Manoel that his wife is the devil and that he has
to sacrifice a baby. Manoel beats his wife and then holds the baby in his arms
while Sebastian kills him with a knife. Rosa grabs the knife and kills Sebastian.
Chaos erupts outside as Antonio's men attack. They kill everybody except Rosa
and Manoel so that they can go and tell everybody what happened.
Manoel and Rosa wander through the sertao with a blind man, Julio, who sings
a commentary to their story, and eventually run into a ferocious sadistic
bandit, Corisco, who survived the massacre of Lampiao's men and has vowed
to take revenge on the government. They witness as he and his two cohorts
slaughter a group of poor villagers in order to save them from starvation.
Corisco is completely mad and delivers a delirious monologue. Nonetheless
Manoel is raptured again, and Rosa can't do much. Manoel wants to avenge
Sebastian as much as Corisco wants to avenge Lampiao. Rosa stares at Corisco's
wife Dada and caresses her face. Now Rosa is beginning to behave like
a madwoman herself. Corisco renames Manoel as Satan. This time Rosa does not
react. And she does not speak anymore. They attack a farm. Corisco rapes the
woman and tortures the man, then orders Manoel to castrate the man, then
finishes him outside. Rosa steals the woman's bridal veil and walks around
ecstatic indifferent to Corisco's atrocities. In fact, when Manoel repents
and offers to rebel, Rosa flogs him. Corisco explains that twenty years
earlier the man's father had humiliated him. Corisco admits that he is more
dead than alive. Meanwhile Antonio, while full of remorse, interrogates
Julio the blind to find out where Manoel is. Antonio wants to know who killed
the saint. Antonio is out to kill both Corisco and Manoel. Julio delivers
the message to them. Corisco and Manoel argue over who was greater, the
social bandit Lampiao or the spiritual master Sebastian. Corisco sends Dada
home and sends Manoel in recognition. Rosa, left alone with him, kisses him
passionately. Dada returns with the news that their daughter has been killed
by the soldiers who are hunting them. The two couples march through the
desert until they encouter Antonio. In the shootout Antonio kills Corisco
and then beheads him. Manoel and Rosa run away. Rosa falls and Manoel leaves
her behind. Manoel keeps running until he reaches the ocean.