Popular films from Brazil tend toward extravagant sensuality and Carnaval scenes. The feast of delights is long and varied and it can be difficult to find trailers in English. I think it is best to invite readers to find the films that suit their tastes. The movies of Dona Flor and Gabriela are taken from the novels of Jorge Amado (say Hor-hay), Brazil’s most eloquent and egalitarian voice. Here’s a starter menu:

Black Orpheus  (1959) – French / Brazilian

Bye Bye Brazil  (1980)

Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands  (1978)

Gabriela  (1983)

Orfeu  (1999)

Me You Them  (2000)

Behind the Sun  (2002)

City of God  (2002)


Central Station (1988)

One film from Brazil bucks the trend and tells an intimate story of friendship between a young boy and an older woman. My review seems unnecessary here. The trailer captures in one minute and 53 seconds the richness, color, and deeper reality of life in this country. It is Central Station (1988) from director Walter Salles, who made Beyond the Sun in 2002 and Motor Cycle Diaries  in 2004.

Evita  (1997) – Argentina

The coupling of Madonna and Andrew Lloyd Webber.  It begins with the announcement of the death of Eva Peron in an Argentina movie theater in 1952.  Flashbacks return to her unhappy childhood, her arrival in Buenos Aires to begin her acting career at the age of 15, and her meeting Peron in 1944 at the age of 23.  They are married in 1945 and Peron becomes President in 1946.  She becomes the darling of the laboring classes and is thoroughly hated by the old elite.  The former actress becomes an obsession to her people.  In the end, Evita oversteps herself by aspiring to the Vice Presidency.  At the height of her popular sainthood, she is struck down by illness.  Peron is devoted to the end.  She dies at the age of 33 in 1952. Madonna is brilliant casting for this role.  Antonio Banderas does a fine job as the ubiquitous narrator, Che.  The music ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous.  The history of Argentina in this period is presented in musical montages.

Imagining Argentina  (2003)

Found this film in the week before we left for Argentina, February 2006.  Set in Buenos Aires in 1976, the city is in the throes of military dictatorship.  Antonio Banderas is a children’s theater director, married to Emma Thompson, an outspoken journalist.  They have a young daughter.  In the beginning, three men come to their house and take Emma away; she joins the ranks of the “disappeared.”  His efforts to recover his wife are punctuated with flashbacks to their earlier life and many scenes of fear and brutality under the repressive regime.  The deep stream of human cruelty, particularly in the abuse of women, evokes the Nazi atrocities.  It is all about males exercising the opportunity for domination over others.  The daughter is killed but Emma escapes by killing a sympathetic guard.  As the light of the world begins to shine on this place, mothers march in the streets with pictures of the missing, and Antonio warns that it will only be over “until the next time.”  It is carnival time and there is a show of jubilation in the streets; Emma finds him in the crowd.  It is a wrenching story.  The dictatorship ended in 1983.  A print legend gives numbers of the “disappeared” in many other countries.  This film is based on a novel of the same name.

More To Come:

Maria Full of Grace  (2004) – Columbia

The Green Wall  (1970) – Peru

Madeinusa  (2006) – Peru

The Fall of Fujimori  (2006) – Peru

Ernesto CHE Guevara: The Bolivian Diary  (1997)

Motor Cycle Diaries  (2004)

The Golden Coach  (1952) – French/Italian – Chile

Missing  (1982) – Chile

The House of the Spirits  (1993) – Chile

Of Love and Shadows  (1994) – Chile


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