Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol (1964)
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The cinematography is incredible, with some beautiful black and white contrasting scenes; the plot is intense, mixing poverty with religion, bandits, barons and love..
I kept thinking about Black God, White Devil but I couldn't gathered the right thoughts on it at first. For me discovering this film makes clearer the way Brazilian Cinema has become one of the most prolific and true to its own context cinemas in the world. I really believe that once an art manages to emancipate from the chains of the mainstream culture begins an honest art-form that is difficult to evade.
I must admit that I had to pause the film in order to get some of the terms used trying to get the most from it. I had issues with the ample of the religious themes, but being from México another country in Latin America that has its history re-written in clerical ink gives me the notion the manner in which catholicism has permeated the Latin American countries' culture, and how was set to control the mind and acts! of the oppressed.
The very first shots are overwhelming, we're being forced to grasp the world of the common folk, the amount of work to produce food for a day. To truly know these people's town through their quests, to learn about their struggle with corruption, fake prophets and their search for purpose, or simply a different life.
The narrative is quite beautiful put, like a modest parable presents the story of Manoel who after killing his dishonest boss leave his home with Rosa, in his search for peace and justice stumbles upon with two different forces, the first from the "realm of god", a leader who promises a land full of everything the sertão is lacking, but the cost to it includes acts of utter violence; the second one offering to fight the system but with no honor, both asking for blind obedience and servitude. In the middle is Rosa, the voice of reason that we rarely give the credit deserved. The arc of Manoel and Rosa ends just how it began with they leaving behind everything they know, everything we came to know, with nothing but uncertainty about their future. Perhaps that's the commentary Rocha is offering us, that in a putrid system it is no good to trust rigid and tyrannical figures, and sometimes that in which we attribute power is leaving us empty.
For me the cinematography felt as a part of the narrative, the overexposed takes are fascinating, the contrast between black and whites makes you feel the rawness of that arid space the characters are into.
Perhaps is not a film for everybody not because the author made the effort to distance its oeuvre for a 'type of moviegoers' conceivably it has more to do with how we're used to learn only about our own struggles without reaching beyond the familiar, if you choose to ignore the history of other countries and detach yourself from their struggle surely you'll find this film 'boring', I think is time to learn about each other and be sensible about it.
This movie is raw! So glad it was filmed in black and white. Great cinematography. Reminds me a little bit like 'Dead Man' by Jim Jarmusch's style, but this movie goes all the way. Really should watch this Brazilian movie.
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In 9 official lists
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This movie ranks #2 in Abraccine's The 100 Best Brazilian Films
This movie ranks #4 in Cien años sin soledad: Greatest Latin American Films
This movie ranks #77 in UNESCO's Memory of the World
This movie ranks #207 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films
This movie ranks #264 in Mark Cousins's The Story of Film: An Odyssey
This movie ranks #273 in Sight & Sound's The Greatest Films of All Time
This movie ranks #410 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #512 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema
This movie ranks #939 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown