A spectacular rise and a hard fall. So it can be resumed the life of Simonal. Phenomenon of popularity in the 1960s, Simonal saw his meteoric career fall apart when he was accused of collaborating with the dictatorship.
This film tells the story of Wilson Simonal, a singer who rose out of poverty to command the largest audiences in Brazil. Gifted with exceptional vocal talent and stage presence, Simonal was able to transform his childhood insecurities into great conquests in adulthood.
I got this movie on a TV screening last night. It seems to me that the Brazilian TV soap opera script structure is constantly borrowed by regular film makers, especially those already employed by the Gobo Network. But this movie stays clear script-wise, which is a good thing.
There are however two flaws that may pass unnoticed to casual viewers:
One is a goof, that the TV camera shown in the movie is the RCA TK-60, only used by the Globo TV channel 4, after 1965. No other TV stations used that camera. Nevertheless, the cameras used for shooting had their side panels labelled as "TV Tupi Canal 6" and "TV Record Canal 7", both Rio and São Paulo TV stations, respectively.
Secondly, that the screenplay does not use subtitles to identify a number of characters displayed on the screen, but these difficult to identify characters were important from the Simonal's history point of view.
Simonal was successful as a singer in his heydays but was dragged into the mud on account of being a suspected informer for the DOPS political police that clandestinely arrested persons of interest.
I remember vividly the weekly journal O Pasquim referring to "Simonia" the act of disloyalty or betrayal. O Pasqum was heavily divulged and read by high school and college students, and as a result Simonal was infected by his ill fame.
Musically Simonal started with the Bossa Nova movement but as lead to a vulgar, albeit strongly popular genre called "Pilantragem", successfully directed to a specific type of audience. After his downfall and demise not even this crowd was willing to support him.
It is difficult to translate the term Pilantragem. Basically it refers to "Pilantras", who are deceitful individuals that are constantly planning to take advantage of others. The term was apparently coined by composer/producer Nonato Busar, who initiated some sort of "musical" movement, and later joined by journalist/musical producer Carlos Imperial, who regarded himself as a Pilantra. The movie suggests that Imperial convinced Simonal to join this movement early in the game, on account of recording sales declining.
In later years the negative political side of Simonal was unsuccessfully cleared by his two sons. This movie tries exactly the same. In his actual life Wilson Simonal was kept away from show gigs and recording studios and was never forgiven by his own peers. He died in 2000, apparently still bitter about his lack of chance to prove that he was never a political snitch.
For many years all of his recordings were not released to the public. This drastically changed and most of his albums can be listened on CD releases and listened on streaming services. This may help younger generations to freely appreciate his body of work.
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