cat leather

Fritz Wotruba (1907–1975), Große stehende Figur, 1959


Considerations on the third short film directed by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade.

“Memories of a past, / relics of old Rio / that's what we're going to remember (…) / Memories of a past / of old Rio that never comes back” [By Moacyr Soares Pereira and João Batista da Silva, samba sung in the film River, Forty Degrees]

The tambourine, which usually kicks off the revelry, also marks its reverse: “When Carnival approaches, tambourines are priceless. In the impossibility of a better material, the tambourines are made with cat leather.” to these words over by Joaquim Pedro, between plans for a Carnival parade on the avenue, the children of the hillside seem to abandon their daily tasks, shoeshine boys and peanut sellers, and dedicate themselves temporarily to hunting cats, more profitable in periods of supply crisis.

Of the five boys, hunted in turn after the domestic cat robbery, only one, who stole a cat from madam, is successful. Relative success, it is true, that disappointment is not long in coming. Refugee at the top of the hill, the idyll with the beautiful white angora is short-lived. Forced by necessity to part with his newly conquered friend, the boy hands him over to the tambourine “luthier”, receives the money and goes down the hill, backwards, swallowing an inadvertent tear.

Here is the general summary of cat leather, from 1961, the third short film by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, and his debut in the field of fiction. Melodrama? There would be elements, children, poverty, impossible affection, painful separation, but the director knew how to avoid the trap of sentimentality. The discretion in filming the boy's resignation was not enough, whose reaction is as if caught on the sly, from behind, because that's how we "see" him, just once, wipe his nose with his arm, — the final song, in crescendo , makes a point of muffling any unsuspecting hiccups.[1]

Merging end and beginning melodically, the film completes the hard circle in which the survival of the poorest moves, without letting itself be overcome by pious feelings, natural, so to speak, to the human heart, nor raising a cry of revolt or outcry of justice, equally dear to our hearts. The boy goes down the hill, swallowing his sob, swallowed by the Marvelous City, this time without the postcard view at the end of the beautiful bay, covered as it is by the wall of buildings in front of us, a kind of squaring the circle of misery, and which the camera, half immobilized, threatens to let itself focus, abandoned almost, perhaps discouraged, like the spectators who knows, with the brutality of life, but rushing to close the episode before the imminence of melodrama in sight, as if awakened by the growing musical score, thus dispelling any mists of bourgeois melancholy. Meows aside, the city is celebrating, and Carnival continues…

Neither melodramatic nor melancholy, the film is even humorous in its core. The vertical montage, of sound over image, helps to comically typify the characters. In the popular restaurant, where one of the boys is playing with a cat, the comic gestures, in the rhythm of a French waltz accordion, are reminiscent of silent comedy, such is the stylization of the interpretations, with its nosy waiter and certain typical addicts, the bad-tempered, the fastidious to the meal, the sophisticated popular, type blasé. In the same way in the rich house, with its fine and alike types, the driver Rodolfo, standing, stiff and proud, poses next to the car, while the bourgeois owner, jovially Americanized from clothes to music (an orchestrated bossa nova ), cool off in the garden. There was the park policeman, moved by the sound of a box and the piccolo of military parades, ambushing two boys who, in turn, were touching the various cats that fed the milk of an old lady's kindness. Accompanying the good lady squatting, an old disorganized violin (an elderly intestine? cats sharpening their nails, scratching the strings?)…

When you do the math, however, and even considering the mute comic nature of the core (about 5'30”, almost half of the short film, therefore, with its 12 minutes), that is, the cats hunting by the boys (3'30”) and the hunting of these by the adults (2′), all to the sound of the tympanum and horn, the serious tone of the film prevails. The opening and ending, in particular, sort of silence the half smile that the tom-and-jerry situation provokes, with its reversals of hunted and hunter. The tonality is serious, because its ambition is realistic,[2] documentary, wanting to be representative of the social reality of the country. The postcard views remain in the background, caught every now and then, but it is the hill that emerges first. It just doesn't emerge aided by the classics of national poverty, hunger, unemployment, eviction, and the known cohort of misfortunes. A bit picturesque even, the article curiously has a lot of “alienated”, as it was said at the time.[3] After all, with so many weighty protagonists populating our hills, why loads of water tambourine, cat leather? And then, between us, knowing the national taste (character? tara?) for slaves, didn't the thing end up being a joke?

In fact, one might wonder whether, in view of its realistic aspirations, it was really adequate material, and how could one hear — we can imagine it — the point-blank retort, whispered though, as was the director's way: but no would be, by “alienated”, just the matter convenient to the examination of reality? to a subtle critique of “alienation”? by exposing the reverse side of the popular festival par excellence? the blood and the tears, the guts and the nerve, the leather, in short, what are your instruments made of?… “Instruments”?! Ah, and that would explain even that “magical” shot, the spectacular metamorphosis at the end of the idyll, the moment when, saddened, looking at it for a long time, he realizes that the food is not enough for two… that boy’s face… those eyes pulled, the hair spiky, brushed, in almost fur... Cat face?

In other words, not only amenable to critical examination, the subject was perhaps even conducive to a non-alienating treatment. The event could be extraordinary, somewhat folkloric, but it did not fail to occur ordinarily every Carnival, every market shortage. In our social order, cats sometimes become tambourines, what's the drama? how children are sometimes skinned (always figuratively, of course... at least forty years ago, in the time of relics).

But that was not all. He also seduced the director with minor material, humble everyday life, the very poetry of everyday life, which he had learned from the Poet of the Castle, and which he certainly sensed present in the colorful local carnival of cat hunting. To further accentuate its lyrical inclination, it probably already had a certain neorealist tradition,[4] with its poetics of humility, its social concern, its child war victims, along with its cheap, precarious (humble?) forms of production, which so paved the way for new cinemas in the Third World. Proving the fertile communion of poetry and politics, embodied in a prestigious international cinema, a famous fruit had recently sprouted on home soil, because it was aesthetically valid and economically viable, and whose existence alone was capable of undoubtedly animating related endeavors.

As in Nelson Pereira dos Santos' first film, River, Forty Degrees,[5] made a few years earlier, in 1955, Joaquim Pedro's short film does not lack scenes of popular life on the hill, the up-and-down with a can of water on the head, the cool in the city of boys from the hill, the routine of the poor, finally, in the fight for survival in the adverse conditions that we all more or less know or can imagine. There is evidently no lack of learning that imposes necessity on childhood dreams and affections. The episode, in Nelson Pereira's film, of a boy's love for an animal (Catarina, the lizard that lived in Paulinho's pocket and ended up being eaten by a snake at the zoo), becomes, so to speak, central to cat leather, a kind of vanishing point to which all movements converge, from feet to eyes. Even some defects in Nelson Pereira's film were, as if contraband, exchanged. The somewhat caricatured characterization was left less for the bourgeoisie, whose figure convinces, and more for the popular types, the waiter, the driver, the guard, the customers of the restaurant.

The difference is that, partly because it is short, the duration of which helps to prevent dispersals, partly because the director is different, whose meticulousness is attested by so many testimonies, the arduous pre-elaboration of his work was not enough, the the difference, finally, is that, instead of the general gratuitousness of the articulations, of the naturalistic montage, aimed at attenuating the effects of the discontinuity of the shots, instead of the dilation of the episodes, present in Nelson Pereira's first film,[6] cat leather it presents itself all tied together, all articulated, almost chronometrically and symmetrically calculated, showing the pronounced rationalist facet of Joaquim Pedro, whose “constructivism”, so to speak, had already been caught in the first short film, especially in his Popular Flag.[7]

The montage, inspired by Eisenstein,[8] if not discursive, figurative, intellectual, conceptual, dialectical, ideological,[9] or whatever name you give it, confronts plans, in allusion to ongoing social struggles, whose development outlined on the horizon — at least — the effective democratization of the country, not to mention more generous dreams, or delirious ones, depending on the point of view . The contagious atmosphere, if excessive, especially when seen in times of social retreat, was not at all unreasonable, as recalled by one of its protagonists.[10] The social struggle had been growing since the previous decade, under the aegis of national-developmentalism, and with it the expectations, the belief, the certainty that it is, in the early 60s, in the Brazilian revolution. It would therefore not be unreasonable to also be inspired by a cinema praxis that converted class struggle into a struggle of plans.

Thus, after having gone from the poor cat, lying on a drum, to the rich cat, lying on the grass, both threatened by the lack of tambourines in the square, the same is done with their owners: from the slum dweller on the hill, building his fence , hammering it vigorously, cut it to a Close in ricaça drinking refreshment… The “idea” is clear: the people working hard, working out, sweating, and the bourgeoisie that refreshes itself! From the gaping face of the boy at the gate, admiring the madam's beautiful white angora, she cuts to a cash register opening noisily, and like a restaurant. The boy's thinking is undoubtedly suggested, calculating the value of the valuable feline and what he could do with it, a good meal, for example. But wouldn't the whole restaurant sequence spark more "ideas"? While the people starve, and the bourgeoisie is bored in the sun every day, what is the middle class doing? you don't kill yourself from consuming, voracious, when you don't existentialize, nauseous, and die of starvation, inappetence, sighing who knows about other cafes?

Ideological in the political sense, but also ideological montage in the purely conceptual sense. In the boys' rush, the capture of a flying chicken, frightened by the crowd on the hill, indicates that they will not be caught, of course, “skinny” that they are, like chickens. Ideological in both senses, conceptual and political, the short openly proposes the symbolic contamination between cats and children, who sometimes hunt, sometimes are hunted. Following the director's intervention, to explain to international audiences the economic rationale of the hunt (whether they were foxes...), a black cat cowers, as if startled by the ringing of its eardrum, announcing the hunt, a plan immediately replaced by one of the boys. , the one left on the hill, moving like a cat, getting ready to hunt. Even more feline, the beautiful angora slowly leaves the frame, leaving in its exact place (with the camera rising and opening) the boy at the gate of the mansion, ambushing him with his mouth open… A child's leather?

When they do not express “ideas” directly deducible from the shock, the shots ironize, satirize, even shock, in their internal montage. In the opening of the film, describing the dawn on the hill, a boy carefully lifts a can of water on his head, then passes another, as if in continuity, carrying water towards home. Can brand: “Sol Levante”. At the bottom of the hill, from the angle of the pilfered but supportive resident, we observe the madame from above, surrounded by the driver, the waiter and the policeman — the bourgeoisie and its lackeys? In the idyll of the hill, the boy, lying down, playing with the cat, takes it to the top and shakes it… Do I practice for tambourine? Macabre sarcasm?

When they are not clear or fully clarified, certain plans give rise to all sorts of speculation. In one shot, before leaving the house to sell it, a boy, lifting the can of peanuts, blows the brazier down on it, keeping it warm, spied by the moon above, to our left. Shots later, a carnival artist plays the tambourine, with the same moon at the top, only on the right first, then on the left, as if taking the place of the boy… Pure taste for symmetry? Ironic lyricism? with the moon up there, about to conquer (remember Man and his space epic?), and here below, our problems so petty, so pedestrian, so terrestrial? Or an allusion to the future of children, in a new symbolic continuity, their probable social “ascension”? Now, peanut seller, cat stalker, tomorrow, God willing, samba seller, tambourine player...

Wouldn't cinema itself be glossed over in the central sequence of the double hunt? The line at the end of which comes a sardine attracting the cat from the hill, breaks when the boy pulls harder. Immediately afterwards, the owner, busy with the construction of the fence, breaks a piece of wood on his knee, on his thigh... Clapperboard, signaling the beginning of the chase? Even more so when we take into account, as we learned, that classic, narrative cinema was practically born by managing to express the simultaneity of action, just like the chase sequence that starts, for example, the “clapboard” beating…[11] Irony? Self irony? Parody? pastiche? Would the short then retell, briefly by force, the history of cinema, in its decisive moments: from the silent to the spoken word, passing through the classical cradle and neorealism, without forgetting the good tradition of Eisenstein's revolutionary cinema?... Postmodernist, Joaquim , before la lettre? Tempting, there is no doubt. What if we thought that he was setting up the history of cinema, from an Eisensteinian point of view, making his choice clear? Even more tempting, imagine, seeing the film as a Sibylline manifesto (despite the contradiction in terms) right at the dawn of Cinema Novo! In this case, up to number 55 of the house of the guy who runs to the screams of “take it! handle!" of the waiter and through the gate holds the bag that the boy is carrying, making him lose the precious load, even that number would not number the debut year of River, Forty Degrees, 1955, decisive for the new national cinema?

Let us ward off temptations, even more so when they lead to ever narrower circles. The “classic treatment of parallel assembly”, as he asserts in the letter to Bernardet,[12] sought to inflect its natural, naturalistic use. In place of the individual hero, he prepared the final sequence, with the further advantage of keeping the “whole girl” as a collective hero. By an irony of fate, the same modest production system, called neorealist, if not simply realistic for peripheral countries, the same system that encouraged him to make the film, and perhaps to start a new career, leaving his father and Physics to watch ships (and candles), altered the original feature of the script, changing its collectivist direction (Brechtian?), more compatible in principle, in his view, with his “political convictions” and aesthetics. Insatiable however, luck tends to be sarcastic at times. The more with the lyrical, poor, contumacious, cyclical, critical ones they are. Production system aside, the contradiction between collective hero and individual hero was embedded in the heart of the script.[13] It was already foreseen to isolate a boy and the cat from the group, regardless of the end (selling or chasing him away).[14] Once isolated, the end obviously imposed itself, with the right to everything, idyll and martyrdom.

In any case, despite the individualized little hero, cat leather he sings, in his discreet way, his people's song. The “documentary character” mentioned in the letter to Bernardet, before being dramatic, or melodramatic, contemplates not only the lyrical, but also the epic. Here the collective anthem. Because the man on the hill is strong. While another boy, probably from the neighborhood, plays with his cat in the backyard, the owner, sawing wood upon wood, builds his shack with dignity. And not only strong but hardworking, and supportive. He runs after the boy who tried to steal his cat, stops at the foot of the hill, in a pose of challenge to the pursuers of the four boys who were running up the hill in search of refuge and came across the one who was fleeing down the hill. Needless to say, no one dared to go beyond the limits of bourgeois civilization, not the waiter, not the driver, who sends the mistress to ask the right person, and providentially at his side — the policeman, who pretends to be asked for his turn and refuses to do so. the instances of the afflicted madam. After all, they were all certainly keeping an eye on the various plans, like us, of that inaccessible world, hovering mysteriously above the asphalt, with its steep alleyways and dangerous stairways, capable of inhibiting the plan of the most reckless navigators. But not only the man from the hill is strong. The women are also worthy, and hardworking, taking care of roasted peanuts, as well as loving mothers, buttoning up their son's poor shirt, before inevitably sending him out into the night to face the cold and the not much warmer mood, of rare customers.

But, truth be told, even paying tribute to the popular or populist chorus, the chant dry clean by Joaquim Pedro, barely watered by a tear, never reached uncomfortable high-sonances. In this sense, for contrast purposes, it is instructive that the following year, in 1962, he was included in a feature film that took the title of Five Times Favela. The collection, conceived by the Popular Culture Center (CPC) of the National Union of Students (UNE), included four other short films: a slum, by Marcos Farias; Zé da Cachorra, by Miguel Borges; Joy of Living Samba School, by Carlos Diegues; It is St. Diogo Quarry, by Leon Hirszman.[15]

In the center, literal and figurative, of the film thus assembled, cat leather, as the third frame of the favela, maintains a certain eccentricity in the face of the aesthetic ideals of the CPC.[16] If it's not pushing too hard, and even running the risk of critical simplification, we can say that the feature film rehearses a certain course, going from the social denouncement ofa slum to the revolutionary celebration of St. Diogo Quarry. Between the extremes, to the left and right of the somewhat eccentric center, the denunciation of forms of “alienation” of the people. Zé da Cachorra accuses the suffering of the migrant, thrown from one side to the other, either by the violence of the owner of the favela, the bourgeois speculator, or by the violence of the owner of the piece, who, when he was walking with his dog... barely hiding, however, his admiration for the title character ( model of a revolutionary? duly “aware”, of course). The other short, Joy of Living Samba School, starring Oduvaldo Viana Filho, known as Vianinha, and whose argument is symptomatically signed by Carlos Estevam, opposes the school director husband, who almost kills himself (or is killed) to make the school leave, and the conscientious woman, who abandoned the samba, that “meaningless noise”, for the union and its struggles. Guiding the conflicts of the two militancies, the “alienated” and the “aware”, the young master of ceremonies, after watching the parade of disagreements, takes off his costume, renouncing Carnival, that is to say, the false “joy of living” from the hill.

Instead of running to the union, as the “aware” reveler in the short by Carlos Diegues should have done, or going on a victory march, showing off the trump cards and triumph of the popular organization, as the anonymous heroes could do from Leon Hirszman's film,[17] the boy from cat leather, going down the hill, having finished the long idyll (2'15”, long for a 12' short film), would not be thinking, presumably, of enrolling early in the Communist Youth. Its “awareness”, unlike proselytism, sometimes more, sometimes less strident, acquires appearances of “revelation”, of epiphany…[18] materialist, so to speak, pardon the paradox, but not exactly revolutionary, still less apotheotic, or apologetic. The learning of necessity, of material constraints, atrocious to the extreme for a conscience in formation, even more important in sacrifice and death (murder?), does not remove the boy from the condition of victim, or patient, nor does it transform him into a potential agent of revolution.

Who could be? The public? But isn't the public there as discouraged as the camera, as impotent as it is in the face of the impassable wall of reality separating the two worlds, the hill and the asphalt? Wasn't the public there, in the city, on the other side of the screen wall, if not on the other side of the ocean? Would that we could hear the trumpets of the Judgment, Final, Inaugural, God knows! but all we hear is the tiny pattering (meowing?) of taut leather…

Certainly our feeling of discouragement, fleeing the sober spirit of the film, which has nothing melodramatic, as we have seen, whose dry climate barely leaves room for a tear, is typical of a petty bourgeoisie. The short certainly aspired to other reactions, less emotional… more effective, shall we say. Destined, for commercial reasons, to the outside public, did he dream of another reception? Another audience? national? and an audience that maybe wasn't even an audience, but with the comparative advantage of being as dry and hard as cat leather itself, tempered as it was by the brutality of life itself? Was he finally dreaming of the people watching him? Probably yes, that the “modest political action” of a film that wants to be “popular, simple and direct”, as he says in the letter to Bernardet, should not be exclusively credited to the director's modesty. How then to pierce the siege? How to reach the people anyway? Making art for the people, of course... popular art?[19] And how to play it? without scaring you? Via Popular Cultural Center? But what exactly is “popular culture”? what is done by the people? what is done for him? what comes to him (and is he appreciated)? what is done in its name (in line with what is thought to be the popular interest)? what represents it (or thinks it represents it)? not to mention the different combinations and emphases of the formulations in themselves and among themselves.

The many questions, which so many were asked, and so many perplexities generated, are part, as expressed in the letter to Bernardet, of those “different imperatives” that Joaquim Pedro tried to “reconcile” and are at the birth of cat leather. Badly subtitling: if there's no money for a feature film, make a short film, but a critical short one, against big capital (cinematographic only?); the money invested, even meager, requires a return (for the good of the cinematographic career), which, in turn, demands an audience, which, in turn, depends on the distribution and exhibition circuit, that is, on the great cinematographic capital, which , as is known, does not exactly excel in cultural interest. If there are no internal conditions, it is filmed outside, well! taking advantage of the wave in favor of national cinema, which was beginning to gain recognition at international festivals. But didn't filming outside impose restrictions? Would the foreign audience, unequipped, resist the deep dive into the national houses and huts? Unknown to the Brazilian reality, didn't the subject necessarily have to be more “universal”, forcing that “conventionalism”, that “anti-artistic generality” of which the letter to Bernardet incriminates itself?[20] Joaquim Pedro had already experienced the difficulty of the European public in understanding his poor Bandeira, poet and film…[21] How to overcome it? Would it even be surmountable?

Not to mention the budget constraints, the precariousness of production, that third-world system that, if on the one hand it was so enthusiastic, on the other hand, it didn't even allow the creation of a collective hero, damn it! An alternative would be an alternative circuit, militant, trade union, popular, like the one the CPC lost sleep over…[22] If one escaped the thematic limitation, nothing guaranteed reception, even less understanding. Popular art with revolutionary content, as the CPC prayed… no way![23] By the way, wouldn't this “popular art” be a new form of “alienation”? Where is the right to doubt? the right to art really?[24] Wouldn't art be precisely the only means of de-alienating consciences in fact? But, if it is not understood by the people, if it remains in the hermeticism of cinemanovists, how to make the revolution? But wouldn't a revolution in art also be a revolution?![25] But would an exclusively artistic revolution help?

What was not lacking, in short, for those who wanted to make cinematographic art, new cinema, independent cinema, or whatever, were the most heartbreaking tensions and intentions. Joaquim Pedro de Andrade not only put his hand into this bowl, as an active member of the Cinemanovista group, but he has been burning his neurons throughout his career, seeking to aesthetically equate the “different imperatives” that continued to animate (torture?) his life and work.[26] His personal inclination, by temperament and training, managed to avoid the most demagogic or populist outbursts. On the other hand, sensitive to his contemporary debate, he never stopped playing, without fanfare, as if in continuous bass, his popular lyrics, at least until 1968, when the end of the military dictatorship, implemented four years earlier, tried to prevent none, however ugly, broke the black asphalt of the new conservative modernization.

*Airton Paschoa is a writer, author, among other books, of see ships (e-galaxia, 2021, 2nd edition, magazine).

Published, under the title “Relíquias do Rio Antiga”, in the magazine cinemas No. 35 (Jul/Sep/2003)


cat leather

Brazil, short film, fiction, 35mm, b&w, 12 minutes.

Screenplay and direction: Joaquim Pedro de Andrade

Assistant director: Domingos de Oliveira

Editing: Jacqueline Aubrey

Photography: Mario Carneiro

Photography assistance: Paulo Perdigão

Music: Carlos Lyra and Geraldo Vandré

Cast: Francisco de Assis, Riva Nimitz, Henrique César, Milton Gonçalves, Napoleão Moniz Freire, Cláudio Correia e Castro, Mário Carneiro, Carlos Sussekind and the boys Paulinho, Sebastião, Aylton and Damião

Production: Saga Filmes (RJ)

Producer: Marcos Farias

Preview: São Paulo, October/61.

Premiere on the commercial circuit, as an episode of Five Times Favela: Rio de Janeiro, 3/12/62.

Awards: Special Diploma at the Oberhausen Festival, Germany, May/62; best short film (shared with Lenin Hill, by Alberto Roldán) at the Sestri Levante Festival, Italy, July/62; CAIC Quality Award, Rio de Janeiro, November/63.


[1] “Who wants to find love”, by Carlos Lyra and Geraldo Vandré, constitutes the musical theme of the short film.

[2] “In the first sequence, which was supposed to be long, was the film's greatest ambition. It should show the activity of the poor children of Rio de Janeiro, when it rains, winds or shines, toiling to earn money. It would have a documentary character, but would be treated within an exact formal scheme: always discontinuity of space, time and object, and always plastic continuity and movement from one shot to another.// Through the most direct solution, with the use of sound resources , there would be a passage from the first sequence, of a documentary character, to the second, of quite realistic fiction, so as not to clash with the previous material, already transformed and brought closer to the second by the staging itself” [letter from Joaquim Pedro to Jean-Claude Bernardet, dated Rome, 24/9/61, and written shortly after the completion of the film (apoud Luciana Araujo, on. cit., P. 87/88)].

[3] Another explanation is known, less aesthetic but equally powerful, for the choice of almost exotic matter. At the beginning of the letter to Bernardet, Joaquim Pedro “explains that the film sought to reconcile 'several different imperatives'. The first choice, the short film format, resulted from the lack of 'own financial resources' and the 'desire to make films insubmissive to the requirements of the 'professional' capital of cinema financing in Rio de Janeiro'. In the absence of a short film distribution and exhibition market in Brazil, the film should have 'features of theme and setting [that] would be able to interest the foreign public, to which it would be aimed with commercial priority'. The theme, setting and treatment followed 'our political convictions, personal sensibilities and the ideas we had at that time about cinema technique and aesthetics. The film intends to be popular, simple and direct in the effects of its construction'” (Luciana Araújo, id. ibid.).

[4] For a historical understanding of neorealism, far from the reification of artistic procedures, so common in the field of arts, see the book by Mariarosaria Fabris (Italian cinematographic neorealism, São Paulo, Edusp/Fapesp, 1996). Thanks to him, we are unveiling the history of the “discovery of the Italian landscape and the taste for natural environments”, the “use of dialects”, the “documentary value”, the “use of non-professional actors”, the “taste for chronicles”. of everyday life and the feelings of the humble", "stylistic" resources all forged in the hope of a socially supportive Italian "reunification", nourished day by day in the Resistance to the fascist nightmare.

[5] For these approximations, I base myself on the masterful study (because it is full of lessons and lessons) by Mariarosaria Fabris, Nelson Pereira dos Santos: a neorealist look? Sao Paulo, Edusp, 1994.

[6] Mariarosaria Fabris points out as a “formal problem” the predominance of the so-called classic montage and the “excessive dilation of some secondary episodes” (Nelson…, op. cit., P. 130/1), although he points out, in addition to “narrative montage”, various forms of articulation, such as dialogic, sound, spatial, situational, dramatic (by contrast), — more significant, and even ideological (id., P. 123-6). From a stylistic point of view, it emphasizes the lack of unity in the characterization of the characters, whose different treatment in the film (“critical realism” for the poor, caricature and farce for the rich and petty bourgeois) limits the scope of its social criticism ( p. 105/6 and 114). However, the scholar warns that many of these defects also appeared in Italian neorealism, the source of Nelson Pereira's first film.

[7][7] Cf. “The debut of Joaquim Pedro: sleeping giant and popular flag”, article by me, in USP Magazine n.o 60.

[8] Regarding Eisenstein's reception by Cinema Novo, Glauber said in an interview with a foreign magazine in 1968: “We were all radical Eisensteinians and we didn't admit that a film could be made except with short montage, close-ups, etc. (...) River, Forty Degrees was influenced by neorealism. We liked the movie a lot because it was in fact the first movie Brazilian, but from an aesthetic point of view we made reservations because it was not an Eisensteinian film (…) It was an undigested Eisensteinian mythology (…)” [apoud Maria Rita Galvão and Jean-Claude Bernardet, Cinema: repercussions in an ideological echo box (the ideas of “national” and “popular” in Brazilian cinematographic thought), São Paulo, Brasiliense, 1983, p. 205/6].

[9] View by Ismail Xavier The cinematographic discourse: opacity and transparency (Rio de Janeiro, Paz e Terra, 1984, 2nd ed., especially the first part of chapter VI, “Eisenstein: from montage of attractions to intellectual cinema”, p. 107/114).

[10] “(…) The fall of Jânio was fundamental for the emergence of the climate that originated the CPC, all that fervor had only one justification: the idea that we were going to get there, and very quickly. With Jânio's resignation, a right-wing coup was set up to prevent Jango from taking office and install a right-wing dictatorship, and all those who would later become part of the CPC participated in the struggle for legality, along with Brizola, the Third Army. , the UNE, the CGT, the unions, the peasant movement, etc… During that period, until 1964, we had the perfect feeling that the popular classes had won (…) the ranks, politicizing people at the touch of a button, to swell and root the movement for the structural transformation of Brazilian society. Is it necessary to sacrifice the artistic? Of course, because the popular classes are going to come to power very soon. The assessment of the situation led to the conclusion that there was a rise of the mass movement and that everything would only depend on the effort we made to multiply these social forces on the rise (...)” in “História do CPC: Depoimento de Carlos Estevam Martins”, granted to Ceac (Center for Contemporary Art Studies) on 23/10/78, Art in Magazine 3 - Question: The Popular, São Paulo, Kairós, March 1980, p. 80).

[11] In order to understand the importance of “parallel”, “alternating”, simultaneous editing, for classical cinema, which had been created by Griffith since 1908 and was finally systematized in 1915, with his Birth of a Nation, starting the large-scale commercial exploitation of the cinematograph, until then a novelty that was not yet known very well what it was used for, see, by Paulo Emílio Salles Gomes, “DW Griffith”, “Birth of a nation” and “Intolerance and serenity", Film criticism at Literary Supplement (Rio de Janeiro, Paz e Terra, 1982, vol. I, p. 361/74).

[12] “For the cat hunt, we chose the classic treatment of parallel montage, developed as a unifying vertex in the chase scenes, intending to precipitate the rhythm, with falls, sudden breaks and resumptions of the previous development of the rhythm until a final paroxysm, finished off by a more abrupt break and a long pause that should open the progress of the epilogue. This treatment had the advantage of allowing the hero of the film to always be the whole group, instead of a single representative of the class, but due to a production deficiency we had to change the original epilogue and individualize a small hero in the last sequences” (letter to Bernardet, apoud Luciana, op. cit., P. 87/88).

[13] “In relation to the film, the script emphasizes more the coexistence of the boys in a group. They meet in the city, when they sit on the sidewalk and count the money earned. And they meet again on the hill, after the chase. Around the angora, they eat the sweets, smoke, and leave, leaving only one of them with the cat (...) "(Luciana Araújo, on. cit., P. 82, emphasis mine).

[14] “In Joaquim Pedro’s archives, there are two very similar versions of the technical script of cat leather. Neither is dated. To distinguish them, I will use A and B, suspecting that A is the first version, because there are corrections already incorporated in B. It is a script for shooting, decoupage, with a detailed description of the plans, the actors' movements and from the camera. The difference between versions is very small, starting with the number of plans (A: 184; B: 186). There are some additions and corrections that make the description clearer. From one to another, the most significant variation is the ending: in A, the boy sells the cat; in B, he chases it away with a stone” (Luciana Araújo, on. cit., P. 82).

[15] Goat Marked to Die (1984), by Eduardo Coutinho, was another project started under the auspices of the CPC and the MCP, the Movimento de Cultura Popular de Recife. But this is another story. Interrupted by the 1964 coup, when a little less than half of the film had been shot, the documentary, summarizing twenty years of nefarious dictatorship, was work that became before purchasing,… luckily for you and our misfortune.

[16] see the famous Preliminary draft of the CPC Manifesto, written by Carlos Estevam Martins in 1962, and its aesthetic categories: “art of the people” (folklore type), “popular art” (hobby, escapism) and “revolutionary popular art” (revolutionary content in popular form). Lapidarly, “the art of the people and popular art, when considered from a rigorous cultural point of view, could hardly deserve the name of art; on the other hand, when considered from the point of view of the CPC, in no way can they deserve the denomination of popular or of the people” (Art in Magazine 1 — The 60's, São Paulo, Kairós, Jan-Mar/1979, p. 72).


[17] In its same Eisensteinian manner, Hirszman's short film praises, on a didactic level, the resistance of the people to the crusher of capital… Only the popular quarry could stop the capitalist machine.

[18] “According to Guido Aristarco, the real novelty of neorealism did not lie in the filming in real settings or in the use of dialects and non-professional actors, but in the fact that it brought to the screen the notion of epiphany: 'Neorealism had discovered, for the cinema, the 'epiphany': paraphrasing Joyce, it can be said that, while other directors saw in things only things, a Rosselini and a De Sica (and, therefore, Zavattini) saw, or tried to see, something more, the 'other side' hidden from those things (of a bicycle, for example) and from men'” (Mariarosaria Fabris, Nelson... on. cit., P. 91).

[19] As a morbid curiosity, let's look at the testimony of Cacá Diegues about the popular reception of his Joy of Living Samba School: “I spent months filming in a favela with the guys; not to mention 'the guys', the residents of the Cabuçu favela. When I finished, I wanted the first people to see the film to be them, the favelados… (…) They saw the film, and when it ended they laughed a lot, because their friends appeared (…) So I asked: what did you think? Then the director of the samba school turned around and said: 'Ah! Very cool... but hey, doctor, this isn't cinema, this isn't cinema'” (apoud Maria Rita Galvão and Jean-Claude Bernardet, on. cit., P. 242).

[20] A suggestive statement by the film's photographer, Mário Carneiro, allows us to identify, I presume, what the director meant with the conventionalism and generality of his approach to the subject: “The actor was a boy from the favela. He had a very strong personality, he was not easily manipulated. In the last scene of the film, he had to go down the hill crying — a very beautiful scene. Joaquim said: 'Now you have to cry, show emotion. Think of a sad thing. On your father's death, for example'. And the boy: 'Hey, Seu Joaquim, if I think about his father's death I'm just going to laugh. He beats me up all day long. What I want most is for him to die'. The boy was naughty. Other emotional ploys were tried, none of which worked. Then Joaquim said: 'As a last resort, I have to hurt you, I'm going to pinch you. Do you think you cry?'. And the boy: 'I don't cry, no. I pick up a rock and smash his head. (...)'” (apoud Luciana Araujo, op. cit., P. 83).

[21] “I'm tired of showing off Manuel Bandeira, which, after all, cannot be of interest to a foreign audience” (letter to Paulo [César Saraceni] and Gustavo [Dahl], dated Paris, 4/5/61, apoud Paulo Cesar Saraceni, Inside Cinema Novo — my journey, Rio de Janeiro, Nova Fronteira, 1993, p. 104). More directly, Novais Teixeira would question, in a period article, when seeing Bandeira’s film succumb to the “general misunderstanding” of the foreign public: “(...) what significance can it have, for those who do not know about the lyrical intimacy and Franciscan simplicity of his personality, the figure on the screen of a small and modest man, who does his shopping in the Castelo district of Rio de Janeiro like any other mortal?” (apoud Luciana Araujo, on. cit., P. 78).

[22] As part of Morbid Curiosity II, let's see, if our eyes aren't clouded, another chapter (dramatic? melo? joco?) In Search of the Lost Proletariat: “We put on many shows at unions, but nobody showed up to watch them” (“História do CPC: Depoimento de Carlos Estevam Martins”, Art in Magazine 3, on. cit., P. 78). If the people did not go to the theater, he went to the people, and thus the “street theater” was born, supported by the famous UNE cart. “Once we took the cart to Largo do Machado, we were putting on a show on one side of the square, while on the other there was an accordion player and a guy playing tambourine. Despite all our sound and light equipment, the accordion player and tambourine player gathered more people than we did. We left there to have an evaluation meeting and a phenomenal crowd came out. I remember screaming: 'It's not possible, this is a total and complete failure, I'm going to go out with the accordion players and you stay here, you intend to communicate with the masses and you're taking a language that's not being passed '. It was from there that this conception of the CPC emerged that we should use popular forms and fill these forms with the best possible ideological content” (id., P. 81).

[23] “I made a movie, cat leather, which had a poetic intention that I am proud of and would like to practice. But I intended in that film a system of superimpositions in order to reach all levels, all the world. I became convinced that this reduces the artistic and cultural validity of what one does. In my opinion, the most effective thing is to have complete freedom in relation to this (…) basic dogmas are always generalizations and, fundamentally, are contrary to all that is artistic validity” (David Neves, Cinema Novo in Brazil, apoud Maria Rita Galvão and Jean-Claude Bernardet, on. cit., P. 256/257).

[24] “And I'm coming to the conclusion (…) that this ideology, calmly, definitely settled and defined, maybe it's not for me. My only certainty is that I have the right to doubt everything and the duty to expose this doubt in the effort to overcome it in order to act or to act to overcome it, using action as a process of knowledge” (id. ibid.).

[25] “There is a great general revolution that encompasses everything and there are others, on different planes. For example, if the artist makes an important work of his time, original and unique, he operates a revolution (...) We are making revolutionary cinema, but we are doing it at a level where it can be really useful and contribute something” (id. ibid.).

[26] Cf. “Mané, flag of the people” (New Cebrap Studies n.o 67), article by me on the most complex film of the so-called first phase of Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, Garrincha, Joy of the PeopleOf 1963.

See this link for all articles