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 ...
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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 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
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 »
When the group of Pentecostal Evangelical inmates are shown, they are joining hands praying the "Lord's Prayer". However, they are reciting the Portuguese words of the Roman Catholic version, which differs from the Protestant version in the use of pronouns and verb tenses. See more »
I've come to take the test.
Médico - Physician:
Please, take a seat. First, I'd like to ask you a few questions, Lady Di.
I've seen this movie before, doctor. I've never needed a blood transfusion and I never pierce my veins. The only drug I use is a joint now and then... when I watch TV or for a little romance.
Médico - Physician:
And partners, how many?
Oh, about 2000.
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On October 2, 1992, a riot broke out at the Sao Paolo House of Detention in Carandiru, Brazil. By the end of that day, 111 prisoners lay dead, the victims of the riot police who stormed the facility and brutally massacred them - even after they'd surrendered their weapons.
Perhaps the most striking aspect about Carandiru is that it doesn't hit us over the head with its subject matter - at least not initially, that is. For roughly the first two-thirds of its nearly two-and-a-half-hour running time, the film focuses on the lives and struggles of the prisoners, as seen through the eyes of the compassionate doctor whose book on the subject served as the basis for the film. Without passing moral judgment, Dr. Drauzio Varella, who has been sent there mainly to help stem the spread of AIDS in the facility,
listens sympathetically to the stories the men tell regarding the crimes they committed (mainly murder) which led to their incarceration (these we see acted out in numerous flashback sequences). Although the prison is tremendously overcrowded and drug use and disease run rampant through the corridors, the conditions don't appear to be quite as harsh or hellish as we might have expected them to be before seeing the movie. For one thing, the men seem to be treated rather decently by the guards - who seem to exist in surprisingly small numbers, actually - and the prisoners appear to have more freedom to walk around and interact with one another than we are used to seeing in American prisons (or, at least, in movies about American prisons). In fact, so much time is spent exploring the relationship problems between the men in their prisons and their loved ones on the outside that Carandiru often feels more like a "novela" set behind bars than a gritty depiction of life in a human hellhole.
But all that changes in the last half hour of the film after the riot has begun and we see the prisoners gunned down in cold blood, many of them while cowering in their cells. It is a brutal and terrifying display of raw, inhuman savagery, one that far surpasses anything we have seen perpetrated by the prisoners themselves. However, writer/director Hector Babenco (along with co-authors Fernando Bonassi and Victor Navas) does not attempt to sanctify or glorify the convicts either, for much of what they do to their fellow human beings is not too many moral steps removed from what the riot squad members eventually do to them. Although the filmmakers' sympathies clearly lie with the prisoners, who are at least presented to us as flawed, three-dimensional human beings, he is not afraid to show the evil side of these men when he needs to as well. The acts of violence that the prisoners perpetrate on their victims and each other are conveyed by the filmmaker with a dispassionate efficiency and awe-inspiring swiftness that are indeed chilling.
As a drama, Carandiru could have benefited from a bit of tightening in its earlier stretches, for the film feels a trifle unfocused and meandering at times. Still, by concentrating so intently on the everyday minutiae of these men's lives in prison, Babenco certainly helps the characters to become more real for the viewer, thereby intensifying the sense of loss when the tragedy occurs.
Blessed with a large and gifted cast, Carandiru offers a long, sometimes touching, sometimes painful look into a world and an event that would otherwise have remained hidden from the eyes of the world.
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