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São Paulo, Sociedade Anônima (1965)

| Drama
A man lives in conflict as he deals with his friends and love interests against the backdrop of São Paulo.


Luiz Sérgio Person (as Luís Sérgio Person)


Luiz Sérgio Person (as Luís Sérgio Person)




Credited cast:
Ana Esmeralda ... Hilda
Eva Wilma ... Luciana
Otelo Zeloni ... Arturo
Walmor Chagas ... Carlos
Darlene Glória Darlene Glória ... Ana
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Mário Audrá Mário Audrá ... (as Mário Aldrá)
Lenoir Bittencourt Lenoir Bittencourt
Victorio Bondiolli Victorio Bondiolli
Osmano Cardoso Osmano Cardoso
João Chalherani João Chalherani
Nadir Fernandes Nadir Fernandes
Etty Fraser ... Neighbor
Marta Gonda Marta Gonda ... Arturo's daughter
Renato Gonda Renato Gonda ... Arturo's son
Ricardo Gonda Ricardo Gonda ... Arturo's son


In São Paulo, Carlos leaves his wife Luciana and his son seeking a new beginning of his life. While wandering through the streets of São Paulo, Carlos recalls the period between 1957 and 1961, when he was a twenty-five year-old employee of Volkswagen in the boom of the automobile industry in Brazil working in the Quality Control of the factory. He meets the supplier Arturo, the Italian immigrant owner of an auto parts, and he accepts his gears even with defects, receiving a commission in return. Meanwhile the easy Ana becomes his mistress, and later he has an affair with the romantic nihilist intellectual Hilda. When he meets bourgeois Ana in the English class, they date and later she becomes his fiancée and wife. Along the years, the rude Carlos loses his job in Volkswagen and becomes manager of Arturo's factory; he has an existential crisis, losing his identity and becoming part of the gear of the process of industrialization of São Paulo. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Plot Keywords:

brazil | sao paulo brazil | See All (2) »




Did You Know?


Official submission of Brazil to the 1966's Oscars in the best foreign language film category. See more »


At about 40 minutes in, there's a scene with a television in the background and a few people watching it. We hear the theme song from the US television series BEWITCHED, which aired from 1964 to 1972 -- after the timeframe of this film. Also, what's shown on the TV doesn't match the opening credits of the TV series. See more »


[first lines]
Luciana: Don't go away, Carlos. Don't go!
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Referenced in Person (2007) See more »

User Reviews

Gritty study on non-conformism is one of Brazil's best films of all time
3 February 2007 | by debblystSee all my reviews

25 year-old Carlos (Walmor Chagas) is an employee of the Volskwagen car factory in São Paulo, during the Brazilian auto industry boom (1957-1961). He leaves the VW plant to work as a manager for sly social climber Arturo (Otelo Zeloni), a humble Italian immigrant who hits the jackpot selling auto parts for big car manufacturers. In non-chronological order, we witness Carlos' gradual personal and professional breakdown as he desperately searches for ethical and existential truths in his oppressive, cul-de-sac middle-class life. All he sees around him is futility, corruption and mendacity, becoming increasingly unstable as he confronts dehumanizing industrial labor, capitalist greed and petty bourgeois values, represented by the simpleton, corrupt, ambitious simpaticone Arturo; the exasperation of marriage conventions, parenthood and family life, represented by his dreary relationship with fiancée/wife Luciana (Eva Wilma) and their baby son; the vacuous hedonism of his lover Ana (Darlene Glória), who's ready to take advantage of the company of men; and the nihilist, self-destructive behavior of his aging, suicidal ex-lover Hilda (Spanish actress Ana Esmeralda, dubbed in Portuguese).

The real protagonist, though -- as the title indicates -- is the huge, glittering, man-eating, constantly mutating city of São Paulo and its 10 million people. The opening sequence is a tour-de-force: Carlos and Lúcia are having a violent argument inside their apartment, but we can't hear them; they're shot from outside the building, through a glass door, with the camera as the city's eyes -- a cruel, thousand-eyed Medusa feeding on people's anonymous, miserable lives.

In 1965, Cinema Novo (the Brazillian New Wave) was at effervescent crossroads and SPSA is one of its most emblematic films (one of the few ones produced in São Paulo too). The first phase (before the 1964 military coup) dealt with political, social, cultural, religious and labor issues regarding the "destitute" (masterpieces like N.P.dos Santos' "Vidas Secas", Glauber Rocha's "Barravento" and "Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol", the omnibus film "Cinco Vezes Favela", P.C.Saraceni's "Arraial do Cabo", Ruy Guerra's "Os Fuzis"). After the coup, Cinema Novo approached the "angry", disillusioned, politically-aware, young middle-class Brazilian man in political, ethical and existential crisis: SPSA belongs to this phase, along with Saraceni's "O Desafio", Rocha's "Terra em Transe" and Gustavo Dahl's "Bravo Guerreiro" (1968), etc.

SPSA's director/writer Luís Sérgio Person (making his amazing debut at 29) shows, in a deeply critical, anti-chauvinistic vision, the "miraculous" economic boom of São Paulo, which became the biggest and richest South American metropolis in roughly 10 years (1955-65), thanks to the nationalization of auto industries and their cascade effects on other highly lucrative businesses (highways, civil engineering, transport, banks, credit, correlated services and, of course, corruption). Money was rolling in, and many humble residential neighborhoods were replaced by huge skyscrapers and modern industries: Carlos is repeatedly humming the song "Favela", about shantytowns being replaced by big buildings. Carlos is skeptical of this "progress" that benefits only a few and doesn't bring any real change to people's pockets, social conventions, human relationships and labor rights. (Note: São Paulo's auto industry and its exploitative labor conditions would be eventually lead to the creation of the biggest labor union in Brazil, culminating in massive strikes in the late 1970s led by steel worker Lula da Silva, who co- founded Brazilian Labor Party in the early 1980s, later entered politics and in 2002 was elected the first ever working-class President of Brazil).

There are minor, unimportant letdowns in SPSA: anachronisms galore, as the film is set between 1957 and 1961 and everything you see is definitely from 1965 (it's a treat for vintage car aficionados, with Simcas, Karmann Ghias, Aero-Wyllis, VW beetles, etc). Cláudio Petraglia's music is unduly bombastic, belying the film's drier, unsentimental style.

The assets are, however, extremely solid: the non-chronological story-telling is complex but never confusing, the editing is agile and the dialog includes bold language in a time of heavy censorship. Person's direction is amazingly accomplished and his script's structure is a beauty: it shows us the trees AND the forest. But the film's most unarguable star is Ricardo Aronovich's camera: fluid, unhampered, versatile, bursting with energy whether capturing big crowds, assembly lines, street marathons, small apartments, beach resorts, parties, faces, bodies, cars. No wonder he went on to work for international maestri such as Costa-Gavras, Malle, Peter Brook, Scola and Resnais.

The cast includes Eva Wilma, too old to play a 21 year-old, but giving a strong, rangy, against-type performance. Darlene Glória is already incredibly confident, beautiful and sexy in her film début at 22. Otelo Zeloni is simply perfect as Arturo, the shady, morally ambiguous, scheming character who's so simpatico he's impossible to dislike. But it's Walmor Chagas as Carlos who holds it all together: it's his first film role (he came from the theatre) but you can't see a single false note (and he's on screen ALL the time). He makes us care for a guy who never asks for pity, compassion or condescendence: he's inflexibly uncompromising and aggressively candid. Lying and compromising are physically nauseating to him, and you can feel his pain as he knows he's hurting people he likes. If we care about him at all, it's because we can't dismiss someone with such contempt for mendacity and sheepish conformism.

A Zeitgeist film if there ever was one, SPSA is simply stunning, and it still stands beautifully tall today, bursting with insightful intelligence, subverting chronological story-telling and mixing fiction and documentary styles. SPSA has recently been elected by a pool of Brazilian critics and filmmakers one of Brazil's Top 10 films of all time -- VERY deservedly so. There's a new DVD release by VideoFilmes with subtitles in English and Spanish, so do yourself a big favor and watch it.

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Portuguese | English

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São Paulo S/A See more »

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