Simonal: Ninguém Sabe o Duro que Dei
- 1h 38min
A documentary about the life, controversial career, and decline of one of the greatest Brazilian singers and showmen, Wilson Simonal.A documentary about the life, controversial career, and decline of one of the greatest Brazilian singers and showmen, Wilson Simonal.A documentary about the life, controversial career, and decline of one of the greatest Brazilian singers and showmen, Wilson Simonal.
The three directors (among them there's Claudio Manoel, best known as a member of Casseta & Planeta, a humor program) make a brief yet detailed view on Simonal's early life and the huge stardom he received in the late 1960's by becoming not only a potent singer and performer of a rhythm best known as Pilantragem (along the lines of "crookery", a mix of rock, bossa nova, doo-woop and many other genres), but also breaking racial barriers along the lines of a Sammy Davis Jr., presenting TV shows, appearing in commercials and movies, seducing a whole nation to his feet. That's the part I was in awe: couldn't ever imagine someone THAT popular in here, surpassing in presence and effect many powerful names of the period like Jovem Guarda and many other MPB artists. Hits after hits (my personal favorite is "Nem Vem Que Não Tem", but he had several more), a popularity that got bigger each year, on top of the world, even appearing in a duet with Sarah Vaughan and having one of his songs getting a Stevie Wonder cover.
And then came 1971, when he suspected that his accountant was taking money from him, something was very wrong with those papers and he wanted to know what was going on. What comes is still a matter of debate. The version we all know is that Simonal used of his influence, contacted some agents from the DOPS (Department of Political and Social Order) to scare the accountant a little bit to see if they get any information about what happened with his earnings. DOPS agents went after the account, used a car borrowed from Simonal and identified themselves as working for the singer. The man was tortured, signed a forced confession and the rest is history of how Simonal's downfall begin. The news hit the media and Simonal became a pariah in the artistic community that considered him a snitch. And years after the fact, the accountant finally had the chance to expose his version of the facts, all presented in this film.
This movie presented me a wider scope of what things really worked back in those hard years of dictatorship. I've always heard about political and cultural persecution, tortures, prison, censorship, artists going to the exile and returning years later, but Simonal's story is one of a kind. Many artists and musicians flirted with the regime, proved fact with documents released more recently and their careers never reached the same fate as the one faced by Simonal. I go with the majority's theory: the race factor and his incredible popularity made a lot of people jealous of his work and fame. One incident that cost him a few days in jail, though he never claimed to be a supporter of the regime, and the press crucified him to the point where no record company would accept his works, the performances diminished overnight and by the time he was regaining some momentum and a possible comeback, he was already an alcoholic doing minor gigs here and there, no longer possessing that amazing voice and then died at age 62, from cirrhosis. Around that time, he was trying to clear his name from the rumors brought on by the media, received a few good news about that but only after his death that some government official revealed the whole truth about his alleged collaboration to the state of exception back in the 1970's. No register on him was found. However, the stories persist, damage was already done.
Consisting of great testimonies from friends, artists and his two sons (Max de Castro and Wilson Simoninha), now well-known musicians, the movie is filled with energy and information, outstanding archive footage and it's very comprehensive about the facts it has to present. Lots of respect for the makers of the film, it was a thrilling and powerful experience that I won't forget too soon. 10/10
- Dec 30, 2016