In 1594 in Brazil, the Tupinambás Indians are friends of the Frenches and their enemies are the Tupiniquins, friends of the Portugueses. A Frenchman (Arduíno Colassanti) is captured by the ...
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Lucy de Carvalho
In 1594 in Brazil, the Tupinambás Indians are friends of the Frenches and their enemies are the Tupiniquins, friends of the Portugueses. A Frenchman (Arduíno Colassanti) is captured by the Tupinambás, and in spite of his trial to convince them that he is French, they believe he is Portuguese. The Frenchman becomes their slave, and maritally lives with Seboipepe (Ana Maria Magalhães). *Contains Spoilers* Later, he uses powder in the cannons that the Portuguese left behind to defeat the Tupiniquins in a battle. In order to celebrate the victory, the Indians decide to eat him. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This is a pseudo-documentary about a French mercenary whom is executed, ends up as a prisoner of the Portuguese and then is the "honored guest" of a cannibalistic Brazilian native tribe. The film is based on the 16th century account of a German explorer, Hans Staden, who was captured by the Tupinamba. The Frenchman becomes part of the tribe, is even given a wife and a hut, until he is to be eaten in a massive ceremony. During this time he tries to figure out a way to escape, by conforming to the tribe.
This film was originally banned in Brazil and was rejected from the Cannes Film Festival because of excessive nudity. The subject matter is portrayed in a documentary style, complete with shaky hand camera footage and including the spoken languages of French, Portuguese and Tupi. With the exception of the few European characters, the majority of the cast spends the film either bottomless, topless or both (also both sexes). The production value appears at first to be quite underwhelming, but I think instead it tries to emulate the simplicity and actuality of the situation rather than some ornate (or romanticized) recollection.
At the same time it is trying to be an objective observer, it is also a critique of mercantilism and its descendants; monetarism and capitalism. There is no real judgment being issued here, but rather is a look at the encounter of the cultures, in an anthropological or rather a more realistic reinterpretation of what occurred when these cultures interacted. Some have said this a black comedy, but I did not find too many places to break out into a roaring laughter (though I did chuckle a few times at the cultural misunderstandings).
This may sound like a rather dry film (which it is), but the relatively short running time makes it seem more like a PBS special than an actual feature film. The movie would also seem to resonate more with the situation and culture of Brazil (past and present). Brazil is a unique country, with a diverse history and culture. It was one of the first films that tried to relate to the "savages", in light of the audience's identification with the Europeans. Even 30 years later, its relevance continues.
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