A woman is taken along with her mother in 1910 to a far-away desert by her husband, and after his passing, is forced to spend the next 59 years of her life hopelessly trying to escape it.A woman is taken along with her mother in 1910 to a far-away desert by her husband, and after his passing, is forced to spend the next 59 years of her life hopelessly trying to escape it.A woman is taken along with her mother in 1910 to a far-away desert by her husband, and after his passing, is forced to spend the next 59 years of her life hopelessly trying to escape it.
The film opens in 1910 with a caravan of wind swept characters appearing in the distance of the dunes of the desert, a group of wayfarers apparently escaping the poverty of the bog city to find a home of their own, land that can be called something that belongs to them. They are led by Vasco de Sá (Ruy Guerra) and his wife Áurea (Fernanda Torres) and her mother Dona Maria (Fernanda Montenegro), both of whom plead with Vasco to let them return to the poverty of the city instead of being forced to attempt to exist in the sands of the windy desert. Vasco is determined, builds a house, forces the women to live there and the others to pitch tents to exist. Áurea becomes pregnant, Vasco is confronted by the real owners of the land led by Massu (Seu Jorge), and must trade his possessions to remain in his 'home', a home which crashes around him leaving Vasco dead and Áurea and Dona Maria to fend for themselves. The others desert the two women and the women find their only help in Massu.
Time passes slowly (to 1919) and the changing sands begin to bury the house. Áurea, now a mother of a daughter Maria (Camilla Facundes), finds a telescope and sets out to see if she can find its owner and a way out of the desert. She encounters a group of scientists photographing the solar eclipse, a group protected by Luiz (Enrique Díaz) who bonds with Áurea, has a night affair with her, and then promises to take Áurea, her old mother Dona Maria, and her young daughter Maria to the city. Áurea sets out for her house only to find it now covered with a dune, her mother dead and her daughter Maria traumatized: the chance for escape is gone.
We move to 1942 and daughter Maria is now a woman (played by Fernanda Montenegro) who has bonded with Massu (now played by Luiz Melodia) and her sensual daughter Maria (played by Fernanda Torres) are still waiting for the return of Luiz. The older Luiz (Stênio Garcia) returns and Maria seduces him, even though Luiz knows she is his old lover's daughter. He returns to the house, meets the 'Áurea/Maria' he loved and ultimately agrees to take the younger Maria to the city: the older Maria elects to stay with Massu. Again time leaps to 1970 and the younger Maria in hippie outfit drives out to see her mother (both Marias are now played by Fernanda Montenegro) and the reunion of hopes and dreams of over 60 years are realized in a manner that brings the film to a haunting conclusion.
The cast is extraordinarily fine, blending into the movement of nature and symbolizing the elements of love, longing, loneliness, destiny, and survival. The repeated use of the two major actresses is a stroke of genius: we are caught up in the intuitive understanding of all the manifestations of these two women over time as they change roles not only as actresses but also as blending characters.
In a fine touch of genius, the films credits are rolled as Brazilian pianist Nelson Friere plays the Chopin 'Raindrop Prelude'. It is a moving ending to a magnificent film. Highly recommended. In Portuguese with English subtitles. Grady Harp
- Dec 17, 2006