Heitor Villa-Lobos and Cinema Novo

Fritz Wotruba (1907-1975), Relief mit drei Figuren.


Commentary on Cinema Novo films and their relationship with Villa-Lobos' music.

History as catastrophe: past, present and future

in the recent movie In the intense now (2017), using archive footage, João Moreira Salles investigates, among other revolutionary movements of 1968 (in addition to personal issues), the mythical French May. One of the ideas that the director's text in voice over and its montage transmit is that the movement did not have the fruits that one would expect (including, taking into account the presence of May 1968 as an ideal of revolution in the general imagination), that it was something intense, but at that moment, as a spark that dissipated as soon as the European summer arrived and the resumption of order.

One cannot help thinking about the current Brazilian moment in which this film was produced, the feeling of failure left as a result of all the political events after the June 2013 Journeys. Although João Moreira Salles said in an interview (KACHANI, 2017) that the film began well before June 2013, recognizes that the parallels are inevitable due to the fact that In the intense now “It speaks of political engagement, intensity and dissipation”.

In relation to the French May 1968, the feeling of failure/dissipation had already been investigated in the very summer following the event by Jean-Luc Godard: in A film with the others (A film like the others, 1968), the director gathered students and workers in an open field in front of the buildings of a Parisian suburb, alternating their conversation with archival footage of recent events and texts in voice over. In addition to the very bold audiovisual montage, with the sounds of several voices overlapping, the workers point out, in the filmed conversation, the complicated union with the students, in view of the very different perspectives for the future. Like the French who leave Paris en masse with the arrival of summer and holidays, the spirit of May seemed to have evaporated at that moment.

At the same time, in Brazil, the feeling of failure and, even more, of catastrophe, is much more evident by the installation of the Military Dictatorship in 1964 and by its intensification from 1968, with the enactment of Institutional Act n.º 5. For Ismail Xavier (2016a), the film earth in trance (Glauber Rocha, 1967) can be considered a milestone in this sense of disaster that is installed in the Brazilian cultural environment. In his article, Xavier (2016a) is based mainly on Walter Benjamin's concepts contained in the book The Origin of German Baroque Drama (1984), such as the idea that the cultural configuration of modernity could be approximated to that evoked by such theatrical pieces from the Baroque era and would be characterized by a feeling of deep crisis. Therefore, it is not something that just appears now and of which João Moreira Salles' film would be an example, but a feeling that already permeated the films made in Brazil during the dictatorship.

In any case, one should not think of “origin” as the genesis of something, since, in Benjamin's essentially anachronistic view of History, “origin does not designate the coming-to-be of what originates, but something that emerges of becoming and extinction. The origin is located in the flow of becoming like a whirlpool and drags in its current the material produced by the genesis. The original is never found in the world of brute and manifest facts and its rhythm is only revealed to a double vision, which recognizes it, on the one hand, as restoration and reproduction, and on the other hand, and for this very reason, as incomplete and unfinished” (BENJAMIN, 1984, p. 67-68).

This is what makes it possible to associate baroque dramas from the 1968th century to the 2013 period in several countries with the same feeling of catastrophe and the current Brazilian moment after June XNUMX. Past and present that point to the future.

Xavier (2016a) considers this sense of catastrophe in earth in trance and we decided to expand this analysis, including, in addition to this film, two others from the Brazilian Cinema Novo: The challenge (Paulo César Saraceni, 1965) and The inheritors (Carlos Diegues, 1970). Although made at different times during the Brazilian Military Dictatorship, all three have in common this aspect of the story as a catastrophe and idealistic characters who suffer from this realization.

In addition, two other elements in common in these three films made us put them together: Villa-Lobos' music and the references made, whether by the music itself or by elements of cinematographic language such as the traveling, to the previous feature film by Glauber Rocha, God and the devil in the land of the sun (1964), made even before the establishment of the dictatorship and which ended with a feeling of utopia in the protagonist's run towards the sea.

We must not see the feeling of catastrophe as negative, as Xavier (2016a) explains from Benjamin: after all, to see history as ruin is to side with the losers and not the winners. In the words of Benjamin (2008, p. 225), “those who dominate at a given moment are the heirs of all those who won before” and “[the] tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the 'state of exception' in which we live is in fact the general rule” (BENJAMIN, 2008, p. 226). Contrary to the historical tradition of empathy with the winner, for Benjamin, it is our task to “construct a concept of history that corresponds to this truth” (BENJAMIN, 2008, p. 226) of the state of exception. Far from being conformism, it is catastrophe as power.

The use of Villa-Lobos' music in Cinema Novo films is also an aspect of a past that points to a present and even to the future of those 1960s. Villa-Lobos had already died at the time of those films and, although he had worked directly with Humberto Mauro on the soundtrack of The discovery of Brazil (1937), had been frowned upon by cinema for many years for being associated with Vargas' Estado Novo. However, Cinema Novo rescues the composer's music, because, among other reasons, its directors saw in it a project of search for Brazilian identity that was similar to the ideals of the movement.

Indeed, Guerrini Júnior (2009) noted that Villa-Lobos' music worked in many of these films as an “allegory of the homeland” until it became, as director Carlos Diegues considered (in an interview with Guerrini Júnior), “a kind of musical icon, with a typical Cinema Novo sound” (GUERRINI JÚNIOR, 2009, p. 167). Furthermore, Diegues observes that the composer's music was used as an illustration of a whole cultural and ideological context that these Cinema Novo directors wanted to convey, unlike the more common dramatic and narrative uses of film music:

“In Cinema Novo, music ceases to be a constitutive element of dramatic narration, but becomes a constitutive element of the film's cultural, ideological origin. […] [In] Cinema Novo, even when the music has a symphonic, orchestral character, it is much more a detonator of a cultural universe to which that film belongs than exactly a supplement to the narration. […] When Glauber uses Bachiana in Deus e o diabo, he means more than simply underlining the image we are seeing. He is really transferring certain ideas about Brazilian culture to the image you are seeing” (GUERRINI JÚNIOR, 2009, p. 168).

Next, based on the filmic analysis of the sequences with pieces by Villa-Lobos in these three films, we will consider the feeling of catastrophe in the Benjaminian sense contained in them, in addition to associating them with the film God and the devil in the land of the sun, with which, in one way or another, the three are related. Our objective, within the narrow limits of an article, is not to scrutinize Benjamin's concepts in depth. In addition, although such films are quite rich in several other pieces and musical genres[1], we limit ourselves to what they have in common, that is, the music of Villa-Lobos, in addition to mentioning other sound elements (gunshots, sirens, voice in e over, silence, etc.) present in the considered sequences. Also because it is an analysis in which purely visual elements, such as framing and traveling, are highlighted, the musical analysis will not be deepened in the intrinsic elements of the musical structure and/or the score.

Such restrictions are not only due to the lack of space for development, but to a choice to approach and compare, in a way that is clear enough for the reader, a certain number of different elements – philosophical: the feeling of catastrophe; sound: the music of Villa-Lobos; imagery: characteristics of traveling and framing, as observed in analyzes by Ismail Xavier (2016a, 2016b) in Glauber Rocha's films and studied here in the following three films.

The challenge and the Bachianas Brasileiras: take up arms?

In the movie The challenge, left-wing journalist and writer Marcelo has a relationship with Ada, a woman married to a wealthy industrialist. The fact that diegetic time is the post-Military Coup moment brings a feeling of hopelessness and lack of perspective for Marcelo – he says right at the beginning of the film: “I, like the others, was believing in the Brazilian revolutionary process” (O DESAFIO , 1965) –, unlike messianism at the end of God and the devil in the land of the sun[2], in which, to the extradiegetic sound of “The sertão will turn to the sea, the sea will turn to the backlands”[3] (DEUS…, 1964), sung by Sérgio Ricardo, the protagonist Manuel ran towards the sea, with the image in traveling to the right. Although Manuel does not reach the sea – he appears in the last shots of the film, but, as Ismail Xavier explains (verbal information)[4], is by an editing operation –, the film has an optimistic sense and the traveling towards the sea prefigures the revolution in a teleological sense, even if it only appears as a utopia[5].

Already throughout Saraceni's film, Marcelo questions himself about what to do in the face of the political situation. In the first conversation with Ada, at the beginning of the film, he states that the Military Coup prevents the two from being on the same side, but Villa-Lobos' music will soon create a bridge between them. After this tense conversation, we see Marcelo with Ada in his room. Above the bed, a reproduction of Guernica by Picasso and, on the wall beside it, a poster of God and the devil in the land of the sun with the character of the cangaceiro Corisco, who, as Xavier considers (verbal information)[6], is a “proto-revolutionary”. That is, the posters evoke revolution and violence.

During the conversation, Marcelo puts a disc with the Sonata for Violin and Piano K378 from Mozart. He then asks Ada to talk about herself. After a cut, we see Ada's face in the frontal plane, in front of the poster of God and the devil in the land of the sun, with the figure of Corisco (Figure 1) and we began to hear, suddenly, the “Cantilena” of the Brazilian Bachianas n. 5 by Villa-Lobos, as if we left for a moment the diegetic space where Mozart's music plays for another space: that of Ada's thought or even the space of Saraceni's authorial instance, making the intertextual connection more evident with Villa-Lobos' film. Glauber.

Figure 1: Plan of The challenge.

Indeed, the “Cantilena” of the Bachianas n. 5 is in God and the devil in the land of the sun, following the caresses between Corisco and Rosa, Manuel's wife. It is, therefore, a moment of lightness in a film marked by violence, which is evoked in The challenge in Ada and Marcelo's love affair. However, unlike Ada's fixed plane in The challenge, in Glauber's film there are a series of traveling shots circular (and, in this moment of idyll, it is significant that the movement is circular and not traveling continuous and in one direction, as at the end of the film) around the bodies of Corisco and Rosa, triggered by each inflection of the soprano's singing.

In her monologue, Ada says that, away from Marcelo, she only feels good next to her son in contrast to the feeling of strangeness in the presence of her husband, and that only the possibility of meeting Marcelo allows her to live without despair. After the monologue, there is a sudden cut of image and sound: we see Ada and Marcelo together in another part of the room, again to the sound of the Sonata of Mozart, which reinforces the distinct character of the previous plan[7].

The second musical incursion of Brazilian Bachianas by Villa-Lobos takes place in another encounter between Marcelo and Ada and, once again, related to a speech by the girl. This time, it's the "Prelude" to the Brazilian Bachianas n. 4 in version for piano. Although this particular section of the Bachianas n. 4 don't be in God and the devil in the land of the sun, in which we hear excerpts from the other three movements of the orchestral version of this bachiana, is nonetheless an allusion to her and to Glauber's film[8].

in the wake of The challenge, Ada and Marcelo are alone at a friend's house. Ada remembers the beginning of their relationship and, as soon as we see a close-up of her face, we hear the “Prelude” of the Bachianas n. 4, as if Villa-Lobos' music evoked, once again, Ada's inner life. The music continues in the next shot, in which we see Ada and Marcelo walking around the house. They arrive at the ruins of an old abandoned pension, which had been burned down by the owner himself, a poet. During the entire continuation of the extradiegetic song until the end, Ada and Marcelo walk around the empty house.

Although here there is not such an obvious association with the theme of the revolution, the ruins, the emptiness, the violence of the fire and the fact that a writer was the owner, like Marcelo and the protagonist of earth in trance (Paulo Martins) – and, probably in crisis, as he sets his property on fire – evoke a world without hope. The most evident relationship between poetry and fire happens right after the end of the song, when Marcelo finds and reads verses contained in a burned leaf of Orpheus' Invention, poems by Jorge de Lima.

The ruins of this sequence of The challenge and the feeling of hopelessness of the film as a whole also evoke an atmosphere similar to tragedy (translated as “drama” in the title in Portuguese, but whose word in the original language contains mourning, Mourning) seventeenth-century German, studied by Walter Benjamin (1984). The ruin in the Baroque marks transience and, in its form, “history does not constitute a process of eternal life, but of inevitable decline” (BENJAMIN, 1984, p. 200).

earth in trance and the Bachianas Brasileiras: yes, take up arms!

Gustavo Dahl, referring to his film The Brave Warrior (1968) observes: “In The challenge, earth in trance e Brave warrior, the same character always wanders around – a petty-bourgeois intellectual, tangled up in doubts, a wretch in crisis. He can be a journalist, a poet, a legislator, in any case he is always perplexed, hesitant, he is a fragile person who would like to transcend his condition” (DAHL [1968?[9]] apoud JOHNSON; STAM, 1995, p. 35, our translation).

Like Marcelo from The challenge, the poet Paulo Martins de earth in trance is immersed in doubts about what to do in the face of the imminent coup in the fictional country of Eldorado, whether or not to take up arms, a decision he takes in the face of the consummated coup in the first sequence after the credits.

The film's relationship is also evident with Glauber Rocha's previous feature film, God and the devil in the land of the sun, which, as we have seen, ends with images of the sea, utopia of the revolution. earth in trance it opens with images of the sea in the credits, to the sound of a candomblé song for the orixá Ewá, however, here, it was not the promised revolution that arrived, but a coup d'état. Filmed during the first phase of the Brazilian Military Dictatorship, the film makes use of allegorical elements from the name “Eldorado”: ​​its province Alecrim, governed by the populist Vieira, is taken by the forces of Porfirio Diaz, former mentor of the poet Paulo Martins.

Glauber Rocha himself (1981, p. 87) evoked a continuity between the two films by the sea: “earth in trance is the natural development of God and the devil: people reach the sea. You can reach the city by sea”; at the same time, there is also a change: unlike the music of hope in the film before the coup, the machine gun noises will stand out in 1967.

For Ismail Xavier (2016a), with the defeat of the revolutionary projects of the left, the modern allegory, thought by Benjamin (1984)[10] as marked by disenchantment and the vision of history founded on catastrophe, a field of permanent conflicts and violence, it becomes central in the Brazilian cultural debate, unlike the Christian allegory, marked by teleology (understood, many times, as the final term in salvation) and the belief in progress, present in the previous feature film, God and the devil in the land of the sun.

After the credits and aerial images of the sea of earth in trance, the first sequence is that of the coup d'état. Disillusioned and disgusted with the capitulation of Governor Vieira, Paulo Martins flees with his girlfriend Sara by car, does not stop in front of the police on the road and is hit. We begin to hear a long monologue by the protagonist (partly voice in and then voice over) and, from Paulo’s speech, “the impotence of faith” (TERRA…, 1967), begins the “Prelude” (“Ponteio”) of the Bachianas n. 3 by Villa-Lobos.

We then see Paulo holding a rifle pointed upwards, in his death agony, and the whole film will be a great flashback of the character. Precisely, the first image that Paul evokes – “where will my god of youth be, Don Porfirio Diaz?” (TERRA…, 1967) –, to the sound of Afro-Brazilian drums that silence the piece by Villa-Lobos, is completely allegorical: Porfírio Diaz with a banner, representing the first Europeans who arrived in the New World, together with carnival figures (among them, Clóvis Bornay) representing Portuguese colonizers and Indians, in an evocation of the First Mass.

During the film, we will have two more different musical incursions by Villa-Lobos. In the first, we hear “Fantasia” (“Revaneio”), from Bachianas n. 3, while Paulo questions himself, along with Sara, about the role of poetry in the political world. He recites poems to Sara filled with violence, as in the verses “I don't announce songs of peace” or in “I return peacefully to the landscape∕ the vomits of experience” (TERRA…, 1967). The fantasy in the title of Villa-Lobos' play may be related to Paulo's dream of uniting poetry with politics, which he concludes, at the end of the sequence, to be a mere daydream: “Poetry has no meaning [...]. Words are useless” (TERRA…, 1967). A catastrophic feeling.

The other moment is during the sequence of Vieira's rally, which begins with the drumming of a samba school present on the scene. Then, the sound volume of the samba decreases until it ceases, while the camera approaches Paulo and Sara and we begin to hear the “Fuga” of the Brazilian Bachianas n. 9 by Villa-Lobos, as a literal allusion to their attempt to leave the crowd. It is as if, at that moment, the music created the couple's space there (MAGALHÃES; STAM, 1977) and allowed us to enter the subjective world of the poet, expressed in his voice over. Indeed, throughout the film, Villa-Lobos' music is associated with Paulo and Sara, unlike other pieces in the concert repertoire (for example, by Verdi and Carlos Gomes), associated with Porfirio Diaz and other "villains". .

There are circular movements present during the first part of the excerpt from Villa-Lobos's “Fuga”, which are similar to those in Rosa and Corisco's love scene in God and the devil, in turn, evoked by Ada in The challenge by Saraceni. However, here, the movements are less of the camera (although it does have some traveling shots circles) and more of Paulo and Sara, who also spin and then try to get away from the crowd.

In the second part of the “Fuga” section, with Paulo and Sara standing by the balustrade, outside the crowd, we hear the samba and the diegetic noises again, while the voice over of Paul gives way to his dialogue with Sarah. She, still believing in a political way out of the crisis, asks union leader Jerônimo to speak out. Then, as observed by Magalhães and Stam (1977), Villa-Lobos' music once again acquires a tragic dimension during his hesitation. A tragedy that is even more highlighted by the silence that follows the sudden cut of all the sound elements. As Wisnik (1983, p. 177) observes, “between the guerrillas and the party, the political carnival of the populist cycle, which characterizes Villa-Lobos' music, crosses and strengthens, recovers its underlying dimension, which is the tragic dimension. ”.

At the end of the film, the sequence of Paulo's death is re-enacted to the sound of the same “Prelude” (“Ponteio”) of the Bachianas n. 3 by Villa-Lobos: throughout the sequence there is a resumption of shots, although not exactly the same, and even with contradictory meanings, as we see in Xavier's analysis (1993). The music is also repeated, but with variations from the beginning of the film (interrupted and resumed later in the score until the end).

At the end of the film, “the montage does not interrupt Paulo's delirious flow at the exact moment he is injured [...]. On the contrary, we now fill in what was suppressed there by the elliptical montage, we follow its associations in vertigo in the first hour of agony” (XAVIER, 1993, p. 32). Now, the music begins as Paulo is shot in the car, in the words “This medal party is not possible” (TERRA…, 1967) by the voice over from him.

Also different from the beginning of the film, here, the music and the voice over of Paulo will always be accompanied by the noise of gunshots and sirens, with the exception of the moment when all sounds are silenced to hear Diaz's inflammatory speech in the midst of Paulo's delirium. He imagines that he would have invaded the palace and fought against Diaz, however, he wins, being crowned and making his speech. For Xavier (verbal information)[11], is a very baroque speech, in dialogue with the context of the tragedy German evoked by Benjamin (1984).

The shots, in addition to evoking, in Paulo's delirium, his fight against Diaz, are also a symbol of the violence throughout the film, in a sound juxtaposition explained by Glauber himself: “Music and machine guns, and then war noises […] . It's not a song in the 'socialist realism' style, it's not the feeling of the revolution, it's something harder and more serious” (ROCHA, 1981, p. 87).

Paulo Martins is a Marcelo who took up arms. But the feeling is also one of catastrophe, culminating in the death of the protagonist.

The heirs and “Invocation in defense of the homeland”: the capitulation

The inheritors it was filmed in 1968-1969, but due to problems with censorship, it was only released in 1970. It belongs to the period of the Brazilian Military Dictatorship, often referred to as “the coup within the coup”. The film actually has a much larger temporal scope, going from 1930, with the rise of Getúlio Vargas, to the seizure of power by the military in 1964[12].

Its main character is Jorge Ramos, a journalist who marries the daughter of a landowner during the Estado Novo of Getúlio Vargas and, later, after Vargas returns to the Presidency in 1951, remains always connected to power, despite the changes politics, making all kinds of alliances and betrayals. The film has many popular songs in its soundtrack, but the piece by Villa-Lobos “Invocation in defense of the homeland” is present from its credits to the end, in several moments of the film.

Unlike the two previous films, the protagonist of The inheritors he is not a revolutionary, although in his youth he belonged to the Communist Party and believes in the republican government of Getúlio in the 1950s, even though he was arrested by him during the Estado Novo. Furthermore, the film begins with the narration over of the old royalist farmer, being, in a way, also described from his point of view at this and other times. This difference in relation to the previous films and the ambiguities of the character Jorge Ramos are corroborated by aspects of the chosen play by Villa-Lobos, as we will see.

There are also intertextual relationships with the aforementioned films by Glauber Rocha. On the one hand, he is a secondary character, the eldest son of Jorge Ramos (Joaquim), one of the “heirs”, who will show a revolutionary impetus, also evoked by the figure of the traveling, recalling, in this respect, Manuel's race in God and the devil in the land of the sun (this association of Joaquim with Manuel through the traveling will be developed later). On the other hand, the film is permeated both by the catastrophic feeling and by moments of modern allegory, as in earth in trance.

The piece “Invocation in defense of the homeland”, for soprano, mixed choir and orchestra, was written by Villa-Lobos in 1943, therefore, during the Estado Novo of Getúlio Vargas, for whom the composer worked. It is a song defined as a “civic and religious song” and the lyrics are by the poet Manuel Bandeira, in which we can observe the praise of nature and freedom, with a prayer against the horrors of war (Getúlio’s government had already declared war against the Axis countries), in addition to an evocation of Canaan, the promised land of the Jewish people, slipping a messianic sense closer to the Christian allegory, observed by Xavier (2016a) in God and the devil.

“Ah, O nature, of my Brazil!
Haughty mother of a free race,
Your existence will be eternal,
And your children watch over your greatness (2x)
O my Brazil!
You are Canaan,
You are a paradise for the foreign friend.
Clarins of dawn!
Vibrant sing the glory of our Brazil.
O Almighty Divine!
Allow our land
Live in peace happily.
Preserve for him the horror of war.
Watch over the meadows, skies and seas of Brazil,
So beloved of your children.
May these be like brothers
Always united, always friends.
Inspire them the sacred,
Holy love of freedom,
Grant to this dear homeland,
Prosperity and plenty.
O Almighty Divine!
Allow our land
Live peacefully, happily,
Preserve for him the horror of war.
Give the glory of… (soprano)
Clarins of dawn! Vibrant sing the glory of… (chorus)
..................................................................................… our Brazil! (everything)”[13]
(GUERRINI JÚNIOR, 2009, p. 139)

Although a large part of the film takes place in the Vargas Era (strictly speaking, from 1930 to 1945, but also during the government from 1951 to 1954), as observed by Guerrini Júnior (2009), Carlos Diegues does not use the play in this part of the film, in which a more simplistic referential function of music would be given to the time of the diegetic action. After his presence in the opening credits, the next incursion of Villa-Lobos' music only takes place on the cartouche “April 21, 1960”, the date of the founding of Brasília. From there until the end credits, there are multiple forays of her.

As we noted earlier, Villa-Lobos was frowned upon for having worked for Vargas (he was the “sound of Getúlio”, as Carlos Diegues said in an interview with Guerrini Júnior) and, in the 1970s, following a similar logic, he became associated with the Military Dictatorship, who used his music in advertisements (GUERRINI JÚNIOR, 2009, p. 170-171).

Thus, being removed from its original context, the music acquires epic colors and, at the same time, becomes a plea for help for what has happened in Brazil since the Empire (referred to in the farmer's speech at the beginning of the film), always in favor of the interests of of powerful and unscrupulous oligarchies, as confirmed by Diegues: “Villa-Lobos' music came into play exactly as you said: in a metalinguistic way. It was like a distress call… Which is exactly what I wanted to say: only God can sort this out here. I think this text by Manuel Bandeira is beautiful, a hyperbolic text that is not exactly Manuel Bandeira's style, excessive, but which has this excessive character that the film needed to have. Almost like a dramatic plea for someone to save us from this mess [sic] all that we are living… The Invocation in defense of the homeland was closely linked to that more nationalist and more para-fascist moment of the Getúlio Vargas government. We knew about it. There's no mistake about it. It's metalinguistic, it's a very tropicalist thing in that sense: the use of certain elements that originally have a value and that you transform into a new context in which you are placing it” (GUERRINI JÚNIOR, 2009, p. 140).

After the second musical incursion of “Invocation in defense of the homeland” in the film, on the occasion of the founding of Brasília, which contains the beginning of the lyrics of the song until “Sing vibrant a glory of our Brazil” (OS HERDEIROS, 1970), there is a brief interruption and the third incursion of music comes right after, when we see Jorge Ramos, from the back, hand in hand with his lover, walking towards the Alvorada Palace (seat of the Presidency of the Republic), while listening to the exhortations of the former Jorge's boss, Alfredo Medeiros (off the field), in order for them to join forces. The camera initially follows Jorge and his lover (played by Odete Lara), until, in a cut, a joint shot (fixed, but with some adjustments during the shot) shows the two on the right of the frame. Medeiros appears on the left, looks at the audience, continuing his argument, in a Brechtian way of staging, similar to the one performed by Glauber Rocha in earth in trance. After that, Medeiros joins the couple in the background, standing to their right. From the left, in the same line, comes the character played by the French actor Jean-Pierre Léaud[14], who recites a text in French and walks until he stops with his back to the left of the shot (Figure 2). The lyrics of the song, sung by the soprano, go from “So loved by your children” to the end.

Figure 2: Image of The inheritors.

Such a fixed framing reminds us of those that Ismail Xavier (2016a) associates with modern allegory in Glauber Rocha's films, such as earth in trance – and, as the author explains, allegory is traditionally a way of denouncing the codes of representation, with a tendency towards excess and grotesque juxtapositions. Indeed, everything in this staging of The inheritors refers to the allegory: Odete Lara's green and yellow outfit between the two men (Jorge and Medeiros) from tuxedo, in an indication of conciliation between the two; the presence of French (like the “foreign friend” in the lyrics), an excessive character, in an inflamed declamation of a text that ends with “the capital of l´espoir” (“the capital of hope”), while, in the song, the soprano and chorus end together singing “the glory of our Brazil”, all of this in a film made in a time of extreme despair with the intensification of the Military Dictatorship.

We also see, here, a theatricality similar to that considered by Xavier (2016a) in Glauber Rocha's films, in which there is a delimitation of the scene, separating it from its surroundings, “so that it can constitute 'the allegorical place' welcoming the forces that act and condense in it” (XAVIER, 2016a, p. 7, our translation). In the same way as Xavier (2016a) observes regarding earth in tranceOn The inheritors the political scene is organized from betrayals and cabinet intrigues, as in the baroque drama analyzed by Benjamin (1984), and many of these moments are marked by such framings and delimitations of the scene. Benjamin (1984, p. 115) explains that, in baroque drama, “history migrates to the theatrical scene” and this is, in general, linked to the court, and, in this delimited scene, “the temporal movement is captured and analyzed in a spatial image”.

A similar framing and demarcation of the scene are also set to the sound of Villa-Lobos' music at the end of the film, at Jorge Ramos' wake: in a frontal and fixed shot, with the coffin in the middle, Joaquim on one side, his girlfriend on the other and the father's lover arrives (coming from the back) to the center, in a very geometric arrangement (Figure 3). It is interesting that, in the next shot, the character of the counselor manages to co-opt Joaquim.

Figure 3: Framing in Jorge Ramos' wake.

In addition, other moments in this musical piece evoke evocations of Glauber's two films (earth in trance e God and the devil in the land of the sun). The first takes place at the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro, used as a location in earth in trance, at the coronation of Porfirio Diaz, when Xavier (2016a) highlights the presence of the baroque allegory. In The inheritors, is the sequence in which Professor Maia's widow (a left-wing intellectual who had asked Jorge Ramos in vain to save him from imprisonment by the dictatorship) shows Joaquim a revolver and, calmly, shoots David point-blank , George's youngest son. The widow commits an act of violence against the father, something for which Joaquim (from Diegues' film) and Paulo (from Glauber's film) feel impotent (in the case of The inheritors, the father is indirectly affected by the murder of his favorite son; already in earth in trance, Diaz is a spiritual father for Paulo Martins). Right after the fixed framing and the murder of David by the widow, Villa-Lobos' music begins. To the music, very loud sounds of shots and screams are added, which act as another reference to the sequence of earth in trance.

In the continuation of the song, we see, in his office and also in a fixed frame, delimiting the scene, Jorge Ramos, his wife, his lover, Joaquim and the character of the councilor, who suggests that he run for a seat in the Senate. It is, once again, the figuration of the closed-door policy, excluding the people, as in the baroque drama (BENJAMIN, 1984), as observed by Xavier (2016a) in earth in trance.

Shortly after the end of the song, Jorge Ramos meets Jorge Barros, his old comrade from the Communist Party, with whom he discusses a possible alliance. The sequence ends with Jorge Barros saying “You are right, Jorge Ramos, but, one day, the people…” (OS HERDEIROS, 1970) and raising his arm with the index finger pointing upwards. Who takes up this messianic proposition, but in a completely crossed way, is Joaquim, who is seen running to the left, accompanied by a traveling, to the sound of “Invocation”, from “And your children veil your greatness” to “Sing vibrant the glory of our Brazil” (OS HERDEIROS, 1970): Carlos Diegues recalls, with this, the teleological proposition of God and the devil in the land of the sun and the race of the protagonist Manuel. However, Manuel and his traveling they are to the right and lead us to the sea. already the traveling de Joaquim is in the opposite direction. The character, although with some ideological aspirations, has the real objective of unmasking his father, as we can see in his statement after the fight with Jorge Ramos: “It is necessary for the son to triumph over the father for time to flow and history to be made” (OS HERDEIROS, 1970) – although, even without a clear revolutionary action, by taking a stand against his father, Joaquim ends up unmasking everything he represents, that is, a way of doing politics with association with the old oligarchies and the powerful from the moment.

As observed by Guerrini Júnior (2009, p. 140), The inheritors is a film marked by a lack of hope and that “does not see the possibility of a solution through armed struggle”, hence the contrast of all the sequences – and this one in particular – with the words of the song's lyrics. Far from Christian allegory and teleology are Joachim's race and the traveling that accompanies it. On the contrary, Joaquim's feeling is much closer to that of catastrophe, like Paulo Martins'. Joaquim says in the bar, in a following sequence, to Léaud's character: “I came because of the disgust of the story. How is it possible to live…” (OS HERDEIROS, 1970). Another “racing” sequence by Joaquim and traveling happens after the father's suicide: he runs forward, towards the camera, marking a fundamental difference in relation to the traveling de God and the devil: there is nowhere to go or any expectations. More than the presence of the catastrophic feeling in Paulo Martins, Joaquim goes beyond in his hopelessness, capitulating before the established power, assuming his father's inheritance.

Final considerations

We saw that in the movies The challenge, earth in trance e The inheritors, made at different times although close to the Military Dictatorship in Brazil, there is in common the presence of idealistic characters and a frequent feeling of catastrophe or failure in the face of political events, different from the messianism present in the previous one God and the devil in the land of the sun, but with which they relate either through the music of Villa-Lobos, or through the figure of traveling.

Although we have divided our analyzes into a descending movement towards the capitulation before the winners of history (from Marcelo's hesitation, passing through Paulo Martins' late decision to take up arms, arriving at the capitulation of Jorge Ramos and Joaquim), we must see in this sense catastrophic a power. In this, Villa-Lobos' music escapes its original injunctions and becomes the soundtrack of this emerging force.

If we also think according to the anachronistic view of Benjamin's story, we can understand the feeling of "dissipation", evoked by João Moreira Salles in his recent film In the intense now, as well as the association made between the events of May 1968 in the film and the Journeys of June 2013 in Brazil, as an aspect of this ruin. Although Moreira Salles' film was not the direct object of our analyses, we thought it important to start the article with the power of this feeling existing in such an object of the present, itself crossed by the past and the future.

* Luiza Beatriz Alvim holds a PhD in Communication and Culture from UFRJ and in Music from Unirio.

Published, under the title “Revolutionaries, dictatorship and ruins to the sound of Villa-Lobos”, in Signification — audiovisual culture magazine, v. 45, no. 50 (2018). Available in https://www.revistas.usp.br/significacao/article/view/141972


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BENJAMIN, W. Origin of German Baroque drama. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1984.

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GUERRINI JUNIOR, I. Music in Brazilian cinema: the innovative sixties. São Paulo: Terceira Margem, 2009.

JOHNSON, R.; STAM, R. Brazilian Cinema. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.

KACHANI, M. May 68, June 2013. Estadão, São Paulo, 21 Nov. 2017. Available at: . Accessed on: 21 Dec. 2017.

MAGALHÃES, MR; STAM, R. Two encounters between the leader and the people: a deconstruction of populism. In: GERBER, R. et al. Glauber Rocha. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1977. p. 148-156.

ROCHA, G. New Cinema Revolution. Rio de Janeiro: Alhambra/Embrafilme, 1981.

STILWELL, R. The fantastical gap between diegetic and nondiegetic. In: GOLDMARK, D.; KRAMER, L.; LEPPERT, R. (Eds.). beyond the soundtrack: representing music in cinema. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2007. p. 184- 202.

WISNIK, JM Getúlio da passion from Ceará. In: WISNIK, JM; SQUEFF, E. The national and the popular in Brazilian culture. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1983. p. 129-191.

XAVIER, I. Allegories of underdevelopment: New Cinema, Tropicalism, Marginal Cinema. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1993.

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audiovisual references

THE DISCOVERY of Brazil. Humberto Mauro, Brazil, 1937.

GOD and the devil in the land of the sun. Glauber Rocha, Brazil, 1964.

THE CHALLENGE. Paulo Cezar Saraceni, Brazil, 1965.

EARTH in trance. Glauber Rocha, Brazil, 1967.

UN FILM comme les autres. Jean-Luc Godard, France, 1968.

THE INHERITORS. Carlos Diegues, Brazil, 1970.

NOT INTENSE now. João Moreira Salles, Brazil, 2017.


[1] Em The challenge, the film is punctuated from beginning to end by a series of MPB songs: “It's morning” (Caetano Veloso), “Arrastão” (Edu Lobo and Vinicius de Moraes), “I live in a time of war” (Edu Lobo and Gianfrancesco Guarnieri), “Carcará” (João do Vale and José Cândido), “Newspaper news” (Zé Keti), “My misadventure” (Carlos Lira and Vinicius de Moraes). The protagonist even watches the show Opinião, in which we see performances by Zé Keti and Maria Bethânia. This sequence, as well as the others with songs, is extensively analyzed by Guerrini Júnior (2009). The music track of earth in trance can be understood as a collection of different musical genres: in addition to Villa-Lobos, other pieces from the classical repertoire (excerpts from operas The Guarani, by Carlos Gomes, and Othello, by Verdi), candomblé music, drum solos, a cello solo, songs, samba, jazz etc. – for more details see our analysis in a previous article (ALVIM, 2015). Finally, according to director Carlos Diegues, “The inheritors it was a film that you could follow with your eyes closed because the soundtrack […] is a reproduction of the same story told by the images” (GUERRINI JÚNIOR, 2009, p. 175). Thus, the film contains a “summary” of the history of Brazilian popular music, from the Era of Radio by Carmen Miranda and Dalva de Oliveira, passing through Odete Lara, arriving at Bossa Nova by Nara Leão and ending with Caetano Veloso.

[2] Em God and the devil in the land of the sun, the protagonists Manuel and Rosa are forced to leave their lands and Manuel becomes involved first with Beato Sebastião (a figure who refers to the messianic leader Antônio Conselheiro), then with the cangaceiro Corisco and his gang.

[3] Lyrics based on Antônio Conselheiro's prophecy.

[4] In a lecture given at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, on March 4, 2015, with the title “Transnational Brazil-Mexico Dialogue: a procedure (the traveling) and its figurative value in three moments: the classic, the modern and the contemporary”. The research was later published under the title “The traveling as a figure of style in the comparison between Mexican and Brazilian films focused on the representation of violence in history: 1945-2001” (XAVIER, 2016b).

[5] In an older text, Xavier observes that, at the end of the film, Manuel “projects his race towards a future that remains opaque and beyond his reach” (XAVIER, 2007, p. 90) and that “the discontinuity between the presence of the sea and Manuel's trajectory confirms the gap between that future to come and his particular experience” (XAVIER, 2007, p. 91), however, this same “gap” means that the insurrection is “always on the horizon” (XAVIER, 2007 , pp. 110-111).

[6] In the lecture “Transnational Brazil-Mexico Dialogue: a procedure (the traveling) and its figurative value in three moments: the classic, the modern and the contemporary”, at UFRJ, on March 4, 2015.

[7] Moments of inclusion of another song in the middle of a diegetic song, giving the impression of a narrative interference, are relatively common in cinema and correspond to the great freedom of the musical element, which often passes from the diegetic space to the extradiegetic and vice versa (STILWELL , 2007).

[8] Em God and the devil in the land of the sun, Glauber Rocha used excerpts (in total, 11 in the film) from various pieces by Villa-Lobos: the Bachianas n. 2The Bachianas n. 4 in orchestral version, the Bachianas n. 5, the coral piece Magnificat Alleluia: String Quartet No. 11 and the cries n. 10 (ALVIM, 2015).

[9] From Difilm's distribution material to the brave warrior (1968)

[10] Xavier (2016a) explains, also based on Benjamin, that, as in Baroque dramas, in the culture of modernity, the question of historical time and the legitimacy of power became fundamental.

[11] Observation made in the lecture “Allegory and Theatricality in Cinema by Glauber Rocha”, on August 14, 2017, at Universidade Federal Fluminense.

[12] There is no mention of that date in the film, nor further details, probably due to censorship or self-censorship. In any case, the deposition of President João Goulart in 1964 can be inferred from the speech of a friend of the character Joaquim: “the president was deposed and has already left the country” (OS HERDEIROS, 1970).

[13] Here and in the following analyzes of this film, we chose to highlight the lyrics of the song with their semantic associations to the images and the context of the sequences in which they are present, also highlighting the use of repeated and varied parts throughout the film.

[14] Both Léaud and Odete Lara worked in films by Glauber Rocha at the time.

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