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Cássia Kis Magro
The Brazilian badlands, April 1910. Tonho is ordered by his father to avenge the death of his older brother. The young man knows that if he commits this crime, his life will be divided in two: the 20 years he has already lived and the few days he has left to live, before the other family avenges their son's death. He is torn between fulfilling his ancestral duty and rebelling against it, urged by his younger brother Pacu. That's when a tiny traveling circus passes through the vast badlands where Tonho's family lives. Written by
I think that - along with Central Station - this is the finest movie ever to come out of Brazil. Walter Salles shows he can go beyond the cheap formula of violence/misery/sex that populated most Brazilian films in the past. While showing the true face of poverty, he doesn't nourish the expectation with such corny stereotypes. That's chasing scene will stay in my mind forever. I am glad to see that Brazilian cinema is experiencing its richer moment since the 1960's.
The first time I've heard about Behind the Sun, I thought it was a tale based on the true story of two families in the state of Paraiba. The ongoing vendetta was in the news all over the 1970's. I was surprised to hear that `Abril Despedaçado' was in fact based on a book from an Albanian writer. It's amazing how the Brazilian Northeastern backdrops fit the plot perfectly. The movie describes the economical changes - cattle ranchers taking over the decadent sugarcane farms - that happen in that region following the end of slavery in the late 19th century.
The actors are superb - particularly the splendid veteran Jose Dumont, who plays the father; it is hard to believe that only nine of them are professionals! The photography is strikingly beautiful.
It impress me the reactions regarding the casting of Rodrigo Santoro for the role of Tonho. Has anyone ever met an average 1910's sugarcane picker of Brazil's Northeast region???? I don't see the same reactions when a young and handsome Al Pacino is chosen to play Serpico, or when Julia Roberts is cast to play Erin Brokovitch. How many roles Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt would get if casting directors took such nonsense seriously? Well, for me Rodrigo Santoro was a pleasant surprise.
Just as a note, this film was not shot at the Pampas, as someone said. The semiarid region in the Northeast of Brazil is known as Sertão (and that vegetation is called Caatinga). The vast grassy and treeless plains known as Pampas - great for cattle, you will not find cactuses or sugar cane there - are located in the South of Brazil and go all the way to Central Argentina. Thousands of miles away from the arid Northeast.
I loved this movie!
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