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Carandiru (2003)

R  |   |  Drama, Crime  |  11 April 2003 (Brazil)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 12,889 users   Metascore: 71/100
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Brazilian MD Drauzio Varella starts AIDS prevention in Brazil's largest prison, Carandiru, in São Paulo, where the population is nearly double its 4,000 maximum. Doc learns from experience ... See full summary »


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Title: Carandiru (2003)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Médico - Physician
Ivan de Almeida ...
Nego Preto - Ebony
Ailton Graça ...
Rosirene (as Aída Leiner)
Gero Camilo ...
Sabrina Greve ...
Floriano Peixoto ...
Antônio Carlos
Ricardo Blat ...


Brazilian MD Drauzio Varella starts AIDS prevention in Brazil's largest prison, Carandiru, in São Paulo, where the population is nearly double its 4,000 maximum. Doc learns from experience and mainly stories the tragic stories of hideous crimes which landed scum there and passionate dramas adding otherwise decent people. Just when he believes to leave the prisoners happy with a soccer tournament, a silly clothing line argument kick-starts a politically opportune revolt repression. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Crime

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong bloody violence/carnage, language, sexuality and drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |


Release Date:

11 April 2003 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

Carandiru - A börtönlázadás  »

Box Office


BRL 12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$1,977,227 (Brazil) (11 April 2003)


$213,954 (USA) (13 August 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The real Carandiru prison was demolished in 2002, it will be transformed into a park with arts facilities. One block (#2) was left intact to be used as a museum. The film was the last thing they used the prison before demolishing 90% of it. See more »


One of the inmates is wearing a Brazilian national team football shirt with four stars, representing the four times that Brazil was FIFA world-champion. But the movie ends in the massacre of 1992, two years before they won the fourth title. See more »


Spoofed in Copa de Elite (2014) See more »


Crucificados pelo Sistema
Written by João Gordo (as João Francisco Benedan), João Carlos Molina Esteves, Jarbas Alves
Performed by Ratos de Porão (as Ratos do Porão)
See more »

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User Reviews

Babenco caught the hard sadness of prison life in 'Carandiru.'
9 July 2004 | by (Columbus, Ohio) – See all my reviews

'Carandiru' is a mess, not just the blood flowing over the steps of the infamous São Paulo prison that was razed after a prisoner riot and slaughter in 1992. In 145 minutes, Hector Babenco ('Pixote,' 'Kiss of the Spider Woman') has too many episodes about different inmates that only tangentially and sometimes superficially relate to the central subject of AIDS prevention; frequently they are standard flashbacks to what the prisoners did to merit incarceration.

A secondary and successful purpose is to reveal a highly structured prisoner society where justice is swift and not always wrong, where the only mistake is to give in to the civilian authority, at which point any freedoms are lost. Despite the crowded and unsanitary conditions, inmates are usually safer and healthier inside rather than out.

The story is told mainly from a prison doctor's point of view as he interviews the inmates for AIDS screening and hears about their lives. Although he is way too happy in his work, he represents a humanistic attitude lacking in the prison officials and the world outside.

Homosexuality, while appropriate for any prison tale, seems to dominate the entire long movie (145 minutes) and throw into relief the director/ writer's interest in the subject that began at least in 'Kiss.' One of the most affecting scenes is the marriage of a devoted, physically mismatched couple and the subsequent attempt by the smaller 'husband' to protect his bride. Babenco and the actors manage to relay dignity and gravity in a situation that could be laughable if not at least clichéd.

Babenco was inspired to write this screenplay by a doctor who saved his life, a doctor who wrote about his experiences in this prison in 'Carandiru Station.' Although HBO's 'Oz' prison series was more insightful, no account could be as loving and socially concerned. Famous prisoner Oscar Wilde wrote in 'De Profundis,' 'A day in prison on which one does not weep is a day on which one's heart is hard, not a day on which one's heart is happy.' Babenco caught the hard sadness of prison life in 'Carandiru.'

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