In 1594 in Brazil, the Tupinambás Indians are friends of the French and their enemies are the Tupiniquins, friends of the Portuguese. A Frenchman (Arduíno Colassanti) is captured by the ...
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In 1594 in Brazil, the Tupinambás Indians are friends of the French and their enemies are the Tupiniquins, friends of the Portuguese. 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
I was hardly aware of the time in history depicted in this 1971 Brazilian black comedy, however that is not to say it wasn't accessible to me because the movie makes it very clear. It's set in 16th century Brazil, where rival French and Portuguese settlers are exploiting the indigineous people as confederates in their battle to assert dominance. What is particularly interesting about the movie is that it is made by the Portuguese from the point of view of the French. The hero is a likable Frenchman, the Portuguese are barbarians, and the rest of the French are oppressive and greedy. The film's Portuguese makers are objective because when all is said and done, we see that it makes no difference whose side one takes. It's about heredity overpowered by environment in a time starkly defined by tribes. Enemies are made and perpetuated, and like so, the environmental integration never progresses.
A Frenchman is captured by the Portuguese is then captured by an indigenous tribe, the Tupinambas, after they massacre a group of Portuguese. The tribe's shaman predicted they would find a strong Portuguese man to cannibalize as revenge for the chief's brother being killed by a Portugeuse musket ball. Thinking the Frenchman is Portuguese, they believe they now have one. Nevertheless, the Frenchman is granted unrestrained course of the village, is sooner or later given a wife, and assumes their accustomed appearance rather than his Western clothes, or any clothes. Another Frenchman comes to the village and tells the tribe that their prisoner is indeed Portuguese, then assures the incensed Frenchman that he will tell them the truth when the Frenchman finds a secret treasure trove that another European has hidden nearby.
I found the opening scene funny, because its narration apposed with its contradictions on- screen serve as great satire, even if the movie didn't seem to want to maintain that tone very much more often. It's actually not a terribly riveting film. The bountiful, essential locale, fierce way of life and ripened native women make not only the Frenchman, but us, too, forget any threat, and we have the feeling of him as a free man. It should not be that terribly hard to escape. The cannibalism is as scarce of desire as the full-frontal nudity of the cast, suggested in lieu as the representative core of Pereira dos Santos's dry political cartoon of New World mythology and undeveloped social coherence. At any rate, this 1500s-era social commentary, shot on location at a bay with 365 islands, played almost entirely nude and almost entirely written in Tupi, encourages effective breakdown of established ways which are topical because they've repeated themselves for centuries.
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