Chronicles 1964

Jan Vercruysse, M(M10), 1993
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By LUIZ BERNARDO PERICAS*

Comments on the book of chronicles by Gianfrancesco Guarnieri and the illustrations by cartoonist Otávio Câmara de Oliveira

To say that Gianfrancesco Guarnieri was one of the most famous and respected contemporary artists in our country is not an exaggeration. Much less known, on the other hand, is the cartoonist Otávio Câmara de Oliveira, who signed his works simply as “Otávio”. 

The first, born in Milan on August 6, 1934, moved to Rio de Janeiro two years later and became involved in theater and politics from a young age. In that city, he was president of the Metropolitan Association of Secondary Students and vice-president of the National Union of Secondary Students. Afterwards, he moved to São Paulo and served as general secretary of the União Paulista dos Estudantes Secundaristas (not to mention that he was also an active member of the Communist Party).

In his early teens, he wrote his first play, sombras do passado (I was then only 14 years old). Later, in 1955, he would found the Teatro Paulista do Estudante with Oduvaldo Vianna Filho (at this time, he helped put on the play church street, by Lennox Robinson and There's an inspector outside, by JB Priestley, which won him the Harlequin Prize at the São Paulo Amateur Theater Festival). As an actor, he would still participate in the film The big moment, by Nelson Pereira dos Santos and the plays School of husbands, from Molière, Happy Days, by Claude André Puggete Of mice and men, based on the book of the same name by American writer John Steinbeck (which marked Augusto Boal's debut as a director), winning, in this case, the best new actor award. Guarnieri wrote They don't wear black tie in 1956, a play that premiered in 1958 at Teatro de Arena (in 1981, it would be adapted for the cinema with a script by him, directed by Leon Hirszman and a cast that included names such as Fernanda Montenegro, Paulo José, Francisco Milani, Milton Gonçalves, Bete Mendes and Carlos Alberto Ricelli; the film would win five awards at the Venice Film Festival, including the Jury's Special Golden Lion). His other plays would also have a strong political character, such as The seed (1961), performed at TBC; The dog's son (1964); Arena counts zombie (1965); Arena counts Tiradentes (1967), in partnership with his friend Boal; Enough! (1972); Botequim (1973) directed by Antonio Pedro Borges; Starting point (1976); Chronicle of an unimportant citizen (1979); My name is Pablo Neruda (1990); and Angel in the opposite direction (1997), together with his son Cacau Guarnieri, directed by Roberto Lage, just to name some of the best known. He was a theater director, participated in soap operas and miniseries, and stood out as an actor in national films. And he was also the composer of several songs (in partnership with successful musicians at the time, such as Edu Lobo, Adoniran Barbosa and Sérgio Ricardo), as well as Secretary of Culture of São Paulo, in the mid-1980s. At the beginning of the XNUMXst century, He even began writing a play about the trajectory of Che Guevara (his last work). A man committed until the end. Perhaps because of all this, throughout his life, he received so many honors. 

Otávio, in turn, was born on June 25, 1930, in Rio de Janeiro. Between 1951 and 1952, this great cartoonist (and also painter) worked as manager of Banco Hipotecário Lar Brasileiro, while at the same time drawing comic strips for the newly founded newspaper Last Minute. He moved to São Paulo in 1953, continuing to work at the same bank during the day, and working at night in the editorial office of the UH São Paulo until the end of the night shift, being responsible for producing caricatures, cartoons and various illustrations for the periodical. According to scholar Worney Almeida de Souza, Otávio not only had his own exclusive page in that newspaper, in which he “commented on the facts of the metropolis”, but also produced more than 15 “works” per day. From 1963 onwards, he gave up his job at the bank and decided to dedicate himself body and soul to his art. He also contributed, in the following years, to the Sports Gazette and Afternoon Leaf, the magazine Placar and, for some time, the newspaper Popular News. His work, like Guarnieri's, also had a very provocative character (including his football cartoons). He was, without a doubt, one of the most important cartoonists in our country.    

In 1964, the two artists would unite in Last Minute from São Paulo in an emblematic collaboration. That year, Guarnieri (invited by Jorge da Cunha Lima), would write several chronicles, which would be accompanied by illustrations by Otávio. At the time, Cyro de Queiroz Guimarães would say about the actor: “At 29 years old, Gianfrancesco Guarnieri is a national name and an accomplished playwright. Perhaps the biggest in this country. His pieces are well known: They don't wear black-tie, Gimba, The seed and now, The dog's son, which Guarnieri considers the best developed of all. Everyone knows he's an actor too, and a good one. […] In uh, He will have his daily corner to talk to the people, where he will narrate and analyze in chronicle form his observations about city life. Social problems, such as the drama of misfit migrants in the capital, the worker who rises early at the market, the Japanese and Chinese immigration clusters, the poverty that knocks on the doors of public hospitals, all of this will be the subject of the column. Other angles of the great city will be focused on, with poetry that only Guarnieri's sensitivity can prepare. […] The press will give him the opportunity he was waiting for: direct communication with his characters. Let’s wait for Gianfrancesco Guarnieri and what he has to say.” 

Its 46 stories were published for two months in a daily column (except Sundays) on the second page of Caderno UH-Revista, in a partnership with the cartoonist from Rio that ended with the military coup (soon after, Guarnieri would flee with his friend Juca de Oliveira to Bolivia, where he would stay for three months). The playwright himself stated that writing those chronicles was madness. According to one of his statements, he wrote them in five minutes and someone sent from the newspaper then went to remove the material and then take it quickly to the newspaper's editorial office. Therefore, he admitted that he had very little personal contact with Otávio. In any case, Guarnieri considered this to be “militant work”. After all, as a committed artist, affiliated with the PCB, he believed he should pass on his social message to as many people as possible. And he knew that the Last Minute It would be an important vehicle in this sense, as it had a huge readership. According to Guarnieri himself, “the party and editorial staff loved the texts. The chronicles were really annoying.” 

His first published story was “First Son”, in the February 4, 1964 edition. The last, “Um Pai”, came out on April 1, the day of the coup. In all of them, everyday types, men of the people, common people, workers in the daily struggle for survival. A true portrait of a troubled period in our contemporary history. It is an invaluable document about Brazil in the first half of the 1960s, especially the moment immediately before the military took power. 

Those texts and drawings were forgotten for a long time and were recovered and published, a few years ago, in Guarnieri's collection entitled Chronicles 1964 (Xamã, 2007), organized by journalist and researcher Worney Almeida de Souza, a beautiful book that, without a doubt, deserves to be read and discussed today as a fundamental record of the collaboration of two great names in national culture, as well as a photograph of a dramatic period in Brazilian history (it is worth highlighting here that the information in this article, in large part, can be found in the aforementioned work prepared by Worney, who deserves all the credit for the excellent collection of sources). This anthology, divided into three parts, contains a preface by Jorge da Cunha Lima, a presentation, a biographical text (which includes a list of works by the actor, director and playwright in theater, TV and cinema), a writing by Cyro by Queiroz Guimarães, the editorial by Cunha Lima of February 4, 1964, a commentary on the play The dog's son (based on the testimony of Juca de Oliveira), a chronology of the events in the headlines of the Last hour, a statement by Guarnieri (from January 2006) and all the chronicles illustrated by Otávio, as well as photos, reproductions of full pages of the newspaper and annexes. A very interesting book that should be published again. Here is the suggestion. 

* Luiz Bernardo Pericas He is a professor in the Department of History at USP. Author, among other books, of Caio Prado Júnior: a political biography (boitempo). [https://amzn.to/48drY1q]

Reference


Gianfrancesco Guarnieri. Chronicles 1964. Editora Xamã, 2008, 208 pages. [https://amzn.to/3VGBeIJ]


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