The movie depicts the political crisis that led to the suicide of president Getúlio Vargas, in the 19 days that preceded August 24, 1954. The crisis began with the attempted assassination ...
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The movie depicts the political crisis that led to the suicide of president Getúlio Vargas, in the 19 days that preceded August 24, 1954. The crisis began with the attempted assassination of journalist and politician Carlos Lacerda (Alexandre Borges) in August 5, 1954, at rua Toneleros, Rio de Janeiro, in which Major Vaz was assassinated instead. Investigations pointed to Gregório Fortunato (Thiago Justino), chief of Vargas' personal guard, as the orderer of the frustrated assassination. This incident was one of the most importants in the history of Brazil.Written by
Just like the German 'Der Untergang' ('Downfall') chronicled the last days of Hitler's life, 'Getúlio' follows the same pattern: it chronicles the last days of Brazilian's controversial/beloved president/dictator Getúlio Vargas, from the Tonelero street attempt on the life of Carlos Lacerda (a well known opponent of Vargas), the unraveling of the case leading to those closest to Getúlio, the political and public pressure resulted from it all, and eventually to his suicide 19 days later, on August 24, 1954.
The film is very well made, beautifully shot, and above all authentic-looking. It was all shot on location, the beautiful Palácio do Catete, and with much care for the characters to look as accurate as possible. It recreates the feeling of the Brazilian 50's nicely as if following a very detailed history lesson.
As any character-focused film, 'Getúlio' depends on its lead actor: Tony Ramos, the actor chosen to portray Getúlio Vargas, is surprisingly good. He is very well-known and beloved by the Brazilian public for his roles in television series/soap operas; while a bad choice as far as looks are concerned (even after the extensive preparation, he does not look much like Vargas), he has the charisma and talent for the job. Vargas was one of the (if not THE) most liked figures of Brazilian history (the 'Father of the Poor', he was called); since the film deals with his latter life, his image already established, it was ideal for him to be played by someone the public would know and could immediately relate to (ie.: Tony Ramos). It helps that he is also a talented actor, and makes the emotional distress Vargas went through in his last days look very real.
The rest of the cast is also very good. Thiago Justino does a great job as Vargas' security chief and right-hand man, Gregório Fortunato; and the actors portraying Varga's family feel like such, with Drica Moraes in special doing a great job as Vargas' daughter. Alexandre Borges looks like Carlos Lacerda, and plays him well enough, but he couldn't achieve the power of Lacerda's speeches; not that he could be blamed for it, though.
Those who know Brazilian history will also like to see other important figures of the time being portrayed as well. Figures like Nereu Ramos, Café Filho, Tancredo Neves, and Afonso Arinos are all very well represented, though their relatively small roles in the film are almost like cameos (Arinos, in special, is briefly shown doing his amazing speech in Congress calling for Vargas' resignation). It is a minor point, but something history buffs might enjoy.
The film is well paced and developed, trying to play like a political thriller and doing the job well enough. It is very historically accurate, avoiding hinting towards the conspiracy theory involving the Tonelero street attack and instead sticking with the historical facts. Like 'Der Untergang', it focuses a lot on the subject's (here, Vargas') feelings and actions in the eminence of his downfall; it overtly humanizes, making him look like an innocent victim of circumstance and overall siding with him rather than making an impartial biopic.
So, while having a bit of bias (though then again, an unbiased biography has never been made), 'Getúlio' is nonetheless a rare good Brazilian picture and a tribute to one of Brazil's greatest historical figures. Because, love him or hate him, Vargas is a very interesting subject and important historical figure. As he himself said, in his suicide note:
"Serenely, I take my first step on the road to eternity. I leave life to enter history."
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