Joaquim Pedro de Andrade: The Brazilian devoured by Brazil

Arshile Gorky, Abstraction, 1945.


Commentary on the artistic trajectory of the filmmaker.


The 1950s were the era of the chanchada. Comparisons with Mexican and Argentinian cinematography are essential in this introduction for the purpose of approximation and cultural differentiation. The comedies by Cantinflas, Tintan (Mexico) and Luis Sandrini (Argentina) were guaranteed successes at the box office, thanks, above all, to the modest costs of the respective productions (and, obviously, the prestige of the actors). However, what shaped those production centers was melodrama (duly acculturated, like comedy, based on Hollywood models). And, in large part, thanks to the musical numbers. In Brazil and particularly in production in Rio de Janeiro, the songs added – or complemented – the comedy in a preponderant way; not the melodrama.

Chanchada was synonymous with humor plus popular song, a tradition that already came from our revue theatre. It is not surprising that the genre has disappeared with the vulgarization of TV. Humorous numbers and musical numbers were part of the new vehicle from the beginning (50s) and dispensed with the pretext-plots of the cinematographic spectacle.

In the early 1960s, the chanchada was still absolute (although many of the releases were tributaries of the previous decade). In the exhibitions of 1960, the chanchada was dominant (more than 70% of the production shown in the theaters), decreasing vertically in the following years. Just over 30% in 61, less than that in 62, just 1% in 63.

Unlike the Mexican, Argentine and Cuban cinemas (the three other most significant cinematographic centers in Latin America), Brazilian melodrama was always in the minority, from the 20s to the 50s, although it imposed its quantitative minority in some indisputable successes, such as Ébrio ( 46), by Gilda de Abreu (with actor-singer Vicente Celestino).

In the meantime, Italian neorealism emerged as an option for the peripheral centers and, consequently, the Latin American countries, to face the luxury of North American productions, absolute ladies of the exhibition market, whose attempts at imitation caused terrible financial failures, especially among us (especially in São Paulo).

It was from 1958 the Argentine medium film take die, by Fernando Birri; of the following year, This land of ours, by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea. Also from 1959 was the courtyard, by Glauber Rocha. In 1960 came aruanda, by Linduarte Noronha, Cable camp, by Paulo César Saraceni and Mário Carneiro, cat leather, by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade; in 1961, The boy in the white pants, by Sérgio Ricardo, and St. Diogo Quarry, by Leon Hirszman.

It should be clarified, for the sake of coincidence, that the artists of the three countries ignored the efforts of the others. Jung would be happy with this confirmation of the collective unconscious...

It is a new generation of intellectuals, who exchange the hitherto most attractive theater and literature for cinema. “I had no greater contact with cinema. What interested me, until then, was the theater” (statement by Arnaldo Jabor in an interview published in the magazine Film Culture, No. 17).

A similar phenomenon also occurred with popular music, at the same turn of the decade, when the emergence of an intellectualized generation dedicated itself to the search for an identity, imposing itself on songs that were naturally popular or predominantly – or almost – commercial.

“We said: this is the reality of Brazil, poor and full of conflicts, there is no point in making expensive films, there is no point in creating an industry that copies Hollywood. We are going to make artistic cultural films that give a true portrait of our country and our continent. Let's compete and compete with quality, with our ideas, our themes and our passion. Idea in head and camera in hand. we were going to form an audience for our films – an audience that believed in our ideas, in our emotions and in our revolution” notes Paulo César Saraceni in his book Inside the new cinema (pg. 126).

From the short to the feature to the already baptized cinema novismo was a quick step. And, also, the notion of the need to commercialize his ideas about the dominant reality among us and the reflection on the conditions of oppression imposed by the economy, finance and the arts of the First World.

Cinema Novo was, above all, an outbreak. Never a movement and much less a school. The subsequent career of its animators served precisely to demonstrate that the new community of filmmakers only had in common the idea of ​​an innovative proposal for cinema, aware of the difficulties of film research in an adverse environment (colonized market). His first approaches in the commercially distributable feature film were situated in the rural environment, where the contrasts with the big cities were stronger and unknown to the paying public in relation to their own country.

Dried lives (1963), by Nelson Pereira dos Santos, and God and the devil in the land of the sun (1964), by Glauber Rocha, were and continue to be the paradigms of this first phase, which soon jumped to urban issues, especially in Sao Paulo S/A (1965), by Luis Sérgio Person, The challenge (1965), by Saraceni, the big city (1966), by Carlos Diégues, earth in trance (1967), by Glauber Rocha and the brave warrior (1968), by Gustavo Dahl. And he arrived at the rural urban allegory of Brazil, year 2000 (1968), by Walter Lima Junior.

At the same time, the more commercial spectacle, after the annihilation of the chanchada, tried to explore the native western, with countless films about the cangaço, which came to be malevolently defined as “nordesterns”, and the not inconsequential urban criminal: in both cases predominated – albeit schematically – a certain heroicization of the marginal (rural banditry, urban criminality). In a way, these films functioned as a replica of the dominant ethic of unrestricted respect for political correctness in legal (and prejudiced) terms. And they can, today, thanks to distancing, be understood in this way, despite the ideological stereotype and the technical precariousness currently evidenced more explicitly.

This is how Brazilian cinema arrives in 1969. And with a milestone of updating and return to its filmic tradition. Macunaima, by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, evokes the sources of popular comedy to impose an acrid critique of power schemes and the psycho-sociological analysis of the oppressed. Consumer society and militaristic authoritarianism are mixed with unusual wit, in the same way as authorial posture, spectacular updating and technological revelation of third worldism.

The 1960s undoubtedly revealed a cinema in the process of growth. Paulo Freire spoke for a long time about the pedagogy of the oppressed. Today, when the oppressed are already fully aware of their colonized condition, they have changed their discourse to the pedagogy of hope, that is: how to get out of it.

It was from the mid-1960s onwards that amateur film festivals began to emerge, revealing a new class that would assert itself in the following years, some of them already imposing themselves in the late XNUMXs, in films with professional characteristics.

Brazilian cinema in the 1960s reflects exactly this part of the discourse. It is a historically fundamental segment for reaching – at least in terms of claims – the next step, which is hope.

After all... this is the function of history.


Since his debut professional short, The Master of Apipucos e The poet of the castle, in 1959, Joaquim Pedro de Andrade[1] it revealed the irony and critical tone that would prevail in all of his work. Maturity would be reached in another short film, Brasília: contradictions of a new city, and in the feature Macunaima, made ten years after the debut film.

The Master of Apipucos and the Castelo poet was, in appearance, a homage to two famous and respected intellectuals in our literature: the sociologist Gilberto Freyre and the poet Manuel Bandeira. The then young director (he was 27 years old) asked Freyre for an account of his daily life, and the text sent to him was used in its entirety, following the writer's wanderings through the gardens of his mansion in Apipucos and at the house on the beach in Pernambuco. He spoke of his plants, the furniture and tiles in the house, his monumental library, his wife and the lunch that was prepared by a veteran cook. The film ended with Freyre lying in a hammock, with a book by Bandeira in his hand. From there it jumped to the poet in his small apartment in Castelo, downtown Rio de Janeiro. Bandeira faced the stone jungle of the neighborhood, bought a newspaper, returned alone to the ap where he prepared coffee, answered a phone call and went out into the street again. In the soundtrack, the poet said one of his best-known poems: I'm leaving for Pasárgada. The sociologist's library-office was proudly described by him. Bandeira's, just as big as the other, remained only visually.

The contrast between Freyre's domestic comfort and Bandeira's discreet solitude was eloquent. After watching the film and claiming to have been exploited, the sociologist wrote a journalistic article in which he suggested the disloyalty of the filmmaker. None of that: the comparison was blunt. However, Joaquim Pedro, avoiding discussions, preferred to divide the film in two: The poet of Castelo continues to exhibit his lyricism; The Master of Apipucos remained as an unfinished record. However, already in this first experience, the director established differences between Brazilian intellectuals, which would become a constant in his later work.

A year later, he left for Cat leather.[2] The film, which was even shown separately abroad and in private sessions in Brazil, had a lot to do with the ideas of that type of proposal that would give content to what was called Cinema Novo. The Centro Popular de Cultura of the União Nacional dos Estudantes worked on four short films for the composition of a feature that would vitalize a project of the group. Joaquim Pedro agreed to add his to those of Marcos Farias, Carlos Diegues, Miguel Borges and Leon Hirszman. The film was titled five times slum and the superiority of cat leather was unanimously recognized by critics upon commercial release.

Thanks to cat leather the director attended courses abroad, becoming familiar with the documentary proposals that were made at the time: the European true cinema the american direct cinema. So he returned to Brazil and thus elaborated Garrincha, joy of the people. In the intentions and infrastructure of the plot, football as the creation of idols and the alienation of the excluded entered like a glove in the ideas of cinemanovistas. That's when it was time for the first fiction feature, The priest and the girl.[3]

In an interview given to the magazine Cahiers du Cinema, in 1966, Joaquim Pedro confessed his vacillation in the face of The priest and the girl. He advocated opening attempts but acknowledged that he was still groping. Anyway, The priest and the girl confirmed a pessimism that he would attenuate in his work through sarcasm and intrinsic criticism, and that would only be excluded (but not completely) from tropical trail (episode of erotic tales, 1977) and of The Brazilwood Man, 1981. And he poetized outrance the conclusive escape of the title characters in a sequence that maintains the lyricism sought until today.

After this departure from strict cinemanovismo – which earned him some repudiation from his colleagues in the outbreak – the director filmed for German television Improvisiert und Zielbewusst (1966) Cinema Novo, in Brazil.[4] Next, Brasilia contradictions of a new city.

The country was in full dictatorship, production was being financed by the multinational Olivetti. Joaquim Pedro knew it was all or nothing. In a documentary short film there was no room for a strategy of images to be almost fatally cut by the censorship, in order to spare other more important ones. He went headlong into criticizing the ideas of the intellectuals who planned and helped build the country's new capital.

The final speech, spoken by another rebel, the poet Ferreira Gullar, was categorical: “By expelling from its bosom the humble men who built it and those who still flock to it today, Brasilia embodies the basic conflict of Brazilian art beyond the reach of the majority. of the people. The architects' plan proposed a fair city, without social discrimination. But, as the plan became reality, the problems grew beyond the urban borders in which they sought to contain. In fact, they are national problems of all Brazilian cities that in this, generously conceived, are revealed with unbearable clarity. It is necessary to change this reality, so that people can discover how beautiful a city can be”.

The producers were startled by the deep wound that the film marks, at a time when the so-called “Brazilian miracle” prevailed. AND Brasilia: contradictions of a new city suffered self-censorship from its sponsors. It remained commercially unpublished, with only a single copy left, shown to students of the rare film courses that existed at the time at the Cinemateca of the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, or in special sessions that waived censorship evaluation certificates, it was presented many years later – more than 20 – on television.

The documentary inaugurated the adult phase of Joaquim Pedro's inventiveness. It attacked the naive idealism of intellectuals who were in agreement with power (even in the period prior to the dictatorship), generalized the contrasts of the middle class that had been scratched in its duality in the debut short and foreshadowed the discourse that would be resumed in the inconfidentes (1972)

Brasilia was not a spectacle for the general public, as had been cat leather e Garrincha. But it wasn't as restricted (don't read hermetic) as The Master of Apipucos ou The priest and the girl. However, in the obvious display of the contradictions of its title, it was as didactic as it was. New Cinema. Once again the filmmaker, only apparently chameleonic, showed the scope of his creative capacity. He was Macunaima which definitively clarified Joaquim Pedro's proposals and ratified his competence and importance within the history of Brazilian cinema.

Of all Joaquim Pedro's films, Macunaima was the most studied and commented. The American Brazilianist Robert Stam, in his book The interrupted show: demystification literature and cinema bases his proposal practically on Godard's films and on Brazilian cinema.[5] Chapter III, titled The children of Ubu: the abstraction and aggression of anti-illusionism begins with Shakespeare and Alfred Jarry. In his approach to cinema, he starts with the first Buñuel, stops at Godard (notably in war time (1963) Les carabiniers) and concludes with Macunaima, to which he dedicates 10 of its 30 pages, and which he defines as: “exquisite example of la sauvagerie in art”.

Establishes relationships between Mário de Andrade's project and Joaquim Pedro's film, defines similarities and differences between the modernist movement of Brazilian literature in the 1920s and Cinema Novo. However, it is mainly linked to the similarities between book and film, in the interest of the general project of his work, although he favors certain peculiarities of the cinematographic adaptation, which are of more direct interest to this analysis (at least, at the beginning).

Heloísa Buarque de Hollanda, based on a master's thesis entitled Heroes of our people, managed to edit Macunaíma: from literature to cinema,[6] where it deals primarily with the different proposals for creating a characterless hero (Mário's) and a bad-character hero (Joaquim Pedro's). The book is rich in explanations about Mário's research for the creation of his rhapsody about the hero of Brazil and about some of the transformations operated by Joaquim Pedro to adapt the original to the Brazilian cultural problematic of the late 1960s.

With plenty of opportunity, the writer compares and distinguishes the problems of the two periods, opposing the cultural independence of the modernists to the questioning of the economic independence of the 1960s: the movement in which the film is inserted is concerned, above all, with the discovery of Brazil, but with terms of their social and economic structure. If Mário de Andrade imprisons the myth to the norms of novelistic literature, Joaquim Pedro imprisons the novel, through critical distancing, to the coordinates of Brazilian reality in the late 1960s.

Confirming – or previously helping – Heloísa’s conclusions, Joaquim Pedro, interviewed by the Buenos Aires magazine Cine & Media – in an article published in its number 5, 1971 – informed that Macunaíma was not the type of hero that could help Brazil to overcome its underdevelopment: “…this new hero is evidently not Macunaíma. Macunaíma is a defeated hero, a wrong hero, a hero of individual conscience – while a modern hero, evidently, is a hero of collective conscience and is a winner, not a loser”.

The author is more concerned with discussing, in general, the adaptation of the literary code to the cinematographic one, but makes explicit Joaquim Pedro's differential posture in relation to Mário's literary original when he declares that the basic search for the allegorical technique, in the film, consists of demystifyingly return reality to the spectator.

The books by the Brazilian and the American came off the press in 1978 and 1981, respectively. In 1982 Literature and cinema appeared; Macunaíma: from modernism in literature to Cinema Novo,[7] by another American Brazilianist, Randal Johnson. It was the most exhaustive and comprehensive work ever written about a film made in Brazil. I will definitely return to it. It is, however, essential to record the recent appearance of Allegories of underdevelopment: Cinema Novo, Tropicalism, Marginal Cinema (April 93), by Ismail Xavier.[8] The book's major project is the analysis of films made in the politically critical period from 1968 to 1970. Fourteen pages are dedicated to Joaquim Pedro's film under the title: Macunaíma: the illusions of eternal childhood. Although subordinating his observations to the general project, the author emphasizes, in the film, the questioning of the Brazilian way, which exchanges the ascetic mentality turned to the future for a hedonistic posture, as a defense of survival to the experience tutored from the outside to the inside.

In a text written by Joaquim Pedro for the 1969 Venice Film Festival, his purposes are clearly discernible. In it, transcribed shortly afterwards in the Peruvian magazine cinema skills, in issue 49 (September/October, 69, page 10) the filmmaker states: “All consumer products are ultimately reducible to cannibalism. Labor relations, like relations between people, social, political and economic relations, are still fundamentally anthropophagic. Those who can devour the other, directly or through an intermediary product – as happens in the field of sexual relations. Anthropophagy also becomes institutional when it is dissimulated. The new heroes, in search of a collective conscience, set out to devour what, until now, has devoured them. But they are very fragile. The left, while being devoured by the right, experiences and purifies itself through autophagy, the cannibalism of the weak. The church celebrates autophagy in its masses, redevouring Christ: the victims and executioners identify and devour each other. Everything, both in the heart and in the teeth, is food. Meanwhile, voraciously, Brazil devours Brazilians. Macunaima it is the story of a Brazilian devoured by Brazil”.

The quote above seems to me of the greatest significance, although it is essential to note that the humor obtained in the film would only appear in the director's texts and statements a few years later (from comments on marital war.

As stated three paragraphs above, the most comprehensive study on Macunaima it was Johnson's. Even because he is the raison d'être of the book. He turned into a doctoral thesis for the University of Texas at Austin, a 15-month research on the relationships between cinema and literature, based on the film. The intention of the study is also to discuss the relations between literature and cinema, in theoretical and practical levels, resorting to the film by Joaquim Pedro, based on the novel by Mário. And analyzing, at the same time, the formal codes and contexts that saw the two works emerge, that is: the beginning of the 1920s and the end of the 1960s, in Brazil. Johnson concludes this information contained in part of the book's introduction by stating that structural and semiological analysis is not an end in itself, but a means that enables a method to arrive at a more comprehensive social or psychological theory.

Information provided by Eduardo Escorel, editor of almost all of Joaquim Pedro's films (and co-screenwriter of the inconfidentes) clarifies that Johnson bought a copy of the film for his thesis work, adapted into a book (at a time when video copies were not yet available), which demonstrates the author's scrupulousness in his study.

The book begins with general considerations on the relations between the literary and the cinematographic, according to the notions of structuralism, with regard to transposition. Its first half is complemented with explanations on the relationship between Brazilian Modernism in the 20s and Cinema Novo in the 60s. The entire second part is dedicated to the book-film link and Joaquim Pedro's differential proposals.

At the time of the commercial release of the film in Rio, I was on the Board of Cinema of Jornal do Brasil, which was deactivated with the departure of Alberto Dines and never resumed by any of his successors. Macunaíma was the film in question on November 7, 1969. I made only a short comment about it: “From Macunaima I don't criticize. Effort of analysis can be found in other works of the Council. But, so as not to leave it without justification, I clarify that, after three contacts with the film and despite some slips in production and direction and Joaquim Pedro's fear of betraying Mário for Oswald, Macunaima strikes me as the healthiest film of the year. Glory to the hero men of this homeland, the happy land of Cruzeiro do Sul”.

The demands of Andrade Mário and Oswald earned me some verbal praise. The revolutionary staging of the play the king of the candle, which moved the entire Brazilian intelligentsia, had everything to do with the receptiveness of Macunaima. Johnson's book puts everything in place: analyzing the – ambiguous – behavior of Mário de Andrade, he brings him closer to that of Joaquim Pedro at the time, 1969). The collection of my bill made no sense because in Macunaima / film the filmmaker, did not intend the Oswaldian anarchy, which he would later seek (including in the writer's fanciful biography in The Brazilwood Man.

Johnson's research is exhaustive. It uses Vladimir Propp's lessons on the invariable and variable elements of the fable and the comparative study carried out by Haroldo de Campos in Morphology of Macunaíma[9]between Propp's thesis and Mário de Andrade's book. In a search for the starting point to establish the relationship between the film and the book, he observes, in the same way as Heloísa, a fundamental difference that can be schematically expressed in the dichotomy hero without character (Mário) and hero with bad character ( Joachim Pedro).

And he quotes an excerpt from the filmmaker's interview with Sérgio Augusto and Jean-Claude Bernardet, published in issue 127 of the newspaper  Opinion, dated April 11, 1975, pp. 20-21, from which I take advantage of the closing: “with regard to the things I added or invented, I tried to bring this material to life, to expose it in the most direct and simple way possible… What I did was to transform magic concretely, physically concrete”.

However, Johnson recognizes the fidelity of the adaptation to the original when he relates the hero's six encounters with the villain (Pietro Pietra), showing compliance with the dynamic structure of the book.

Respect for the original can even be observed in situational changes such as, for example, the transformation of Ci, queen of the Amazons, into a guerrilla; anthropomorphized animals (currupira, agouti, monkey); the São Paulo metropolis through Rio de Janeiro; macaroni and feijoada feast; bush environments in urban. They are all adjectival transformations that receive, better, the modifications operated by the filmmaker.

All these observations are important insofar as the director's deference to the literary original is verified: dramatically, the film evolves like the book and values ​​the narrative aspects created by the original. According to the author of the study analyzed here, Joaquim Pedro would have interfered in the literary original in the same way that Mário de Andrade did on the legend, according to the work of Haroldo de Campos on the subject, that is, observing the structural and invariable axis and organizing, creatively, the variable elements around that axis.

And there are respectful disrespects, as Johnson recalls. Still in the first part of the film (corresponding to chapter 2 of Mario's book, Majority), Macunaíma laughs at Maanape's thinness; this is absent from the book, but appears in Makunaima's Exploits, legend collected by Koch Grunberg, which served as a source for the Brazilian literary classic. Another striking example noted by Johnson is the eating of earth, which happens to Macunaíma at birth and in the misfortune of his agony.

In an interview with Mario Jacob and José Wainer, published in Cuban cinema, No. 66/67, pages. 32 to 37, the filmmaker declares: “Brazil devours Brazilians who die, constantly, victims of the conditions that the country itself lives in, that is, victims of poverty, underdevelopment, misery; it is enormous, a veritable genocide that takes place permanently. The film tries to represent all of this. The main character, Macunaíma, begins the film eating dirt, just like poor children in Brazil do, and ends up eating dirt again”.

Checking the Brazilianist's information, eating earth is not present in Mário's book, but in his short story Doesn't Piá suffer? suffer, prior to the novel.

From these two examples – there are others in the film – one can see the filmmaker's concern with the research of the originals to be, at the same time, respected and subverted. Or in the investigation of existing occurrences in the script.

More sensitive alteration is perceived in the conclusion and I participated in it, in part. Joaquim Pedro faced problems with the ending. One night, in the old Zeppelin of the Visconde de Pirajá, I told him the closure I would give to an adaptation of Pedro Malazarte that had not been published: he would die devoured by the Iara, a symbol of popular imagery. It was a first solution to his doubts. In the filmmaker's statements for the film's publicity leaflet, taken from an interview given to Headline, in 1969, he said: “I write two adaptations that took me four months. More or less from February to June 1968. In the first one, I tried to rationalize, to tame the book in a way. But things collided. They went in several directions and did not complete each other. In the second, when I understood that Macunaíma was the story of a Brazilian who was eaten by Brazil, things became more coherent and the problems began to be solved, one after the other”.

The final script underwent further changes; in both, however, it concluded with Macunaíma in heaven, as in the book. Joaquim Pedro went to Cinemateca do MAM looking for images of the starry night sky; There was even thought of Universal's brand of presentation, with the background of stars on which the Earth revolved. But he didn't win. The closure, in the well, with the protagonist's olive green coat reddened by the blood, with the Villa Lobos hymn on the soundtrack, was a decision made after the script.

Another significant aspect of the film, also noted by Johnson, is its distancing, one of Joaquim Pedro's trademarks, who even used it to accentuate the intentional anachronism present in several of his films. There are several examples of spectacular distancing in Macunaima. I stick to two cited by Johnson. In the first, when the family leaves the jungle towards the city, in a canoe, the camera follows the figure of Macunaíma who, at a given moment, looks (twice) irritably at the viewer, as if complaining about the camera's indiscretion. In the second, shortly after, he reveals to the audience, directly, that his sister-in-law, Iquiri, got a job in a girls' house, in Mangue, disappearing from the film.

The most substantial of the changes is the one pointed out by Heloísa: hero without character x hero bad character. It is not, therefore, a updating, while respecting Mario's narrative evolution. The literary Macunaíma, albeit in the derivative sense given by Propp, is a fabled hero. Joaquim Pedro's becomes a victim of his own heroicization. In the melancholy return to the maternal woods, home appliances achieve their defeat in the face of consumerism that destroyed their epic individuality, defined by their brother at birth.

Unlike Mário's protagonist, Joaquim Pedro's Macunaíma is always shrewd in the forest; his misadventures begin in the big city, where, for example, the episodes with the monkey and the duck, the relationship with Ci, the duel with the giant, the meeting with Vei and his daughters, evidence of his naivety and weakness, are transported.

The posture of the hero of the book is typically allegorical. Mário wants his protagonist to soar above the epic conventions of Brazil's colonized bourgeoisie at the beginning of the century. Joaquim Pedro contextualizes the hero, who cannot do magic and is dominated by the consumer society; he evidently ceases to be a hero (epically) and settles for the submission of the individual to the social, displaying, throughout the story, the growing scars imposed by the urban core of society on his primitive cleverness of hero of our people.

Virtually all of Randal Johnson's observations and discoveries are pertinent. He is wrong, however, when he says that the film's combination of shots (editing) is relatively conservative and traditional, especially when compared with Glauber Rocha's films. The big difference between Macunaima and Glauber's films lies in his personalism and in Joaquim Pedro's quest to reach an easily understandable level of reading, integrating it with another where he exposes his thinking. It is, above all, a difference in style, which the director himself adopts, both in relation to the previous The priest and the girl as for the posterior the inconfidentes.

Moreover, in no film representative of Cinema Novo can one find a rigorously conservative combination of shots. The cinemanovista outbreak had its origin in the search for the cultural identity of Brazilian cinema. This groping obviously had several mistakes. However, even in these it is not the possible conservatism of the montage that counts. The attempt to discover a Brazilian discourse in cinema required an innovative adaptation of artistic technology assimilated from the outside to the internal reality. If adequacy is not achieved, the result is frustrated: if it is achieved – even partially – the novelty is effective. Incidentally, as the old popular adage goes "no one is holy in his land". Movies like Brazil, year 2000 (1969), by Walter Lima Júnior, and Public opinion (1967) and All nudity will be punished (1973), by Arnaldo Jabor, received with reservations among us, won awards abroad.

I refer to Roberto Stam's book cited at the beginning of this article. After stating that Macunaima is the last son of Ubu to be examined, he claims that the film is a comic degradation of the epic (a dramaturgical innovation, therefore). And he declares, a little further on, that Joaquim Pedro explores the dissociative techniques already labeled by Noel Burch as structures of aggression (article published in Cahiers du Cinema nº 195, November, 1967, pages. 58 to 65). Considering that montage is an adjectival function of substantive discourse, it is impossible to attribute a conservative character to it if the main thing is innovative. And Johnson himself turns against himself when he claims that the narrator intervenes 33 times in the film. He says that sometimes talking about him is redundant, in relation to the image, in others it is used as an ironic commentary on the action of the film, or as a false reality, which the visual image subverts. A little further on, he states that the humorous and grotesque birth of Macunaíma subverts the ideology suggested by the patriotic march. And that inversions of official values ​​run through the film from beginning to end.

In my mistaken note on Newspapers in Brazil already indicated, I would conclude with the patriotic hymn of Villa Lobos that the film uses against the grain, in the opening and closing. The use of written music as a commentary on the narrative is not new, not even in Brazilian cinema. Joaquim Pedro himself had already used it in cat leather (Who wants to find love, by Carlos Lyra) and Garrincha, joy of the people (excerpts from football anthems and two samba-plots). In Macunaima the novelty is in the use of the patriotic hymnbook to mock its civic purposes. It was used in the same way nine years later by Ana Carolina, at the conclusion of from the guts heart (1982), with the Hymn of Academic Youth, by B. Sampaio and Carlos Gomes. These two proposals (among others that perhaps escape me) will probably have influenced Nelson Pereira dos Santos in prison memories (1984). Ace Variations made by Goldrach about our National Anthem, present at the opening and closing of his film, dispense with the obvious denunciation of the other two, but were probably inspired by it to characterize the ambiguities of the official story, already questioned in the book by Graciliano Ramos that gave rise to it .

One last observation remains: the relations of Macunaima with the chanchada. It is a bond of dubious confirmation, since the chanchada already resulted from a collage – or narrative montage – of genres and formulas, many of them originating, also, from other more simple or orthodox sources of spectacle, at an international level. Basically and almost exclusively aimed at the popular spectacle (in the sense of a cinematographic audience), chanchada sucked what it could from Hollywood musicals and comedies (sometimes with support from Latin American and European counterparts, including ideology), from our revue theater, adapting foreign counterparts to the taste of native audiences, coalescing our theatrical comedy tradition and combining them with musical numbers and the humor of radio hits.

Let me clarify further: although without the musical numbers of the chanchadas (with the exception of the verses by Mário de Andrade, set to music by Jards Macalé, Mandu Sarará and Tapera tapijara, sung by the protagonist and re-evidencing the sought-after anachronism of the filmmaker already indicated in this article), Macunaima makes the popular songbook succeed in the soundtrack. Previously, Joaquim Pedro, in films in which he resorted to selections of pre-existing music, opted for erudite music, mixed with popular music only in the aforementioned examples of Garrincha, joy of the people.

Here he resorts to popular music in at least 14 moments (the signs register only 12, omitting the tango I want to see you once more, hit by Libertad Lamarque at the turn of the 40s and what's left. songwriter Charles Trenet from the end of the same decade). In Macunaima, unlike musicals and chanchadas, popular songs function only as sound support, never performed in their entirety. However, they are there, in a mixture as apparently chaotic as the baião Respect Januário, the romantic pit of Orestes Barbosa, Skyscraper, the old carnival girl from the 30's Cecy and Pery and the young guard It's firm talk with Roberto Carlos.

Exactly like the chanchadistic miscellany of pianistic virtuosity by Bené Nunes, sambas and carnival marches and romantic songs in the voices or squeaks of movie starlets and popular radio figures of the time. Never forgetting to note, in Joaquim's Andradian cocktail (which uses the songbook from various parts of Brazil to compensate for the environmental concentration of bush and city, non-existent in Mário's wanderings throughout the country) the inclusion of Blue danube Straussian, a small excerpt from the Russian Borodin in the final dive and the patriotic hymn of Villa Lobos, already commented. In addition to the tango, the French song, already mentioned, and the use of fox By a waterfall - of the movie footlight parade (1933) beauties in magazine – in a Brazilian version with the voice of Francisco Alves, musical background of the transformation from black to white of the bad character hero, observed by Johnson. This is one of the only two moments in the book in which the author refers to chanchada – and its dependence on Hollywoodian codes – as an imposition of cultural imperialism (also, no longer necessary!).

In his text about the two Macunaima Heloisa uses the same situation to oppose Mário's handsome prince to the fake clothes of the paper prince in the film. It could also be understood as an allusion to student amateur shows, but also to the production conditions and precarious finishing of the chanchadas. And Sérgio Augusto, in his book about the chanchada, This world is a tambourine,[10] refers to the use, in the film, of gender actors. Several comments about Macunaima at the time of release, they mention only the side and its chanchadistic aspects. In the chapter on Macunaima from the already listed book by Ismail, the parody character of the film is assumed as a postulate without analytical detail. Moreover, this was not the purpose of the author who, under this aspect, registers its scope in the hedonistic tonic.

Still regarding the appeal to the chanchada, Grande Otelo's participation in the film deserves special attention, regardless of other allusions that reflect more deeply on the film's proposals with regard to racism. As noted by João Carlos Rodrigues in The Brazilian black and the cinema,[11] the chanchada resorted to black comedians, but in pairs (or ensembles) with whites. The most popular and famous of these combinations was Grande Otelo with Oscarito (and later with Ankito). Otelo became one of the emblematic actors-characters of the chanchada, mixing naivety and cleverness, trickery and inconsequential immediacy: everything to do with Macunaima, with a view to rereading. And, symptomatically, the black-and-white duo of chanchadeiros appears, in Macunaíma, as in a family tree. Successively, the actors Paulo José and Grande Otelo impersonate Macunaíma's mother and the hero after turning white, and, as a child, the devilish rogue and Ci's son. And the brothers Jigue and Maanape form another duo in black and white (non-existent in the book).

It is also worth remembering here the capillary metamorphoses that characterize the adult Macunaíma. Their hair ranges from slightly wavy to frizzy, from dark to light brown, sometimes reaching reddish. In a question I asked many years ago about the subject to the actor Paulo José, he declared that during the filming everything seemed crazy: that they filmed anarchically, fearful of the detachment of the result. In this regard, it is convenient to recall three scenes immediately following each other. On the way from the forest to the city, after discovering the magic spring, Macunaíma turns white, blond with long hair; in the next scene, inside a truck of macaw sticks, has black hair; when jumping from the vehicle, she has brown, wavy hair.

And yet, the result did not reveal inconsistency: the successive changes in the protagonist's look did not bother him (the film was a success with the public). Obviously intentional about opening up the racial fan in his character, the director, while hiding his intentions (as he often did in his films), played, evidently, once again, with the Brazilian spectator's habit of accepting precarious solutions in shows to he intended.

The chanchada, however commercial their projects were, established paradigms that made the genre evolve (or the formula, if you like: perhaps that is the most appropriate term). One of the most constant, in the field of humor – light or dark – was the relationship between the smart and the fool, benevolent, malicious or scoundrel. The transformations of animals (folklore or not) that confront the Macunaima of Mário and the forces of nature in human characters creates an unusual crude or grotesque humor of chanchada – the cannibal currupira, the kind agouti, the old caapora, the duel between the tico-tico and the chupinzão, the bastard monkey, Sol, etc. . The arrow thrown by Macunaíma at the giant, which results in his victory in obtaining the amulet, is also an almost absurd result of the turns – often unbelievable – of the happy endings of the genre, in the same way as the transvestites of the characters.

The most significant index is that of Macunaíma-Paulo José's disguise as a woman to seduce the giant (replica, for example, of several dissimulations by the chanchada comedians). The disguise comes from Mario's original. This one, however, abounds in magical transmutations, including in the episode in question. They are elided in the cinematographic adaptation, with the exception of the whitewashing of the protagonist to the sound of the North American song (premonition of the Michael Jackson phenomenon?) and the effects of macumba on the giant's health (however, controlled, in the film, thanks to the effects of the mighty muiraquitã).

That the chanchada served as a basis for the elaboration of Macunaima-movie, there seems to be no doubt. If none of the examples cited is valid by itself, their sum makes the balance weigh in that direction. Even in declarations Joaquim Pedro passed this idea of ​​organizing his films with several readings. From the advertising leaflet Macunaima there is another statement by the director that I couldn't detect where it came from (if it wasn't written directly by him). He says the following: “I thought I could even renew cinema audiences, attract those who had been away from cinema for a long time, the public of the chanchada [emphasis mine], by a different path, without repeating the old formulas with variations. Macunaíma is really different from everything that has been done in terms of cinema, not because of the work, but because of the book itself (…) I tried to make a film without a predetermined style. His style would be to have no style. An anti-art, in the traditional sense of art (…) There are no concessions to good taste in it. I've been told he's a pig. I think it is. Just as popular grace is often filthy, innocently filthy, like the rubbish spoken by children.”

All these considerations regarding the chanchada seem to me of special significance in an analysis of Macunaima. Because in the film she acquires a structural weight. It is through her that the filmmaker returns to the public his favorite hero, the master of trickery, to finally pull the rug out from under him. As who says: it's not there!

The bush-town-bush journey has a vectorial meaning in the overthrow of typical malandragem. The forest of completion is riddled with urbanities. In the useless consumer devices, of course, but also in the unconsciousness present in the lies told to the parrot by the bad character hero. In his narcissism – as Ismail observes in the chapter of the book already cited – he did not know how to take advantage of the lived – and suffered – experience. He didn't realize his inexorable failure: he didn't even realize the end of the road that would cause him to abandon his henchman brothers.

Reduced to immobility in the virgin forest where he came to light, he has only the last dive left. And unlike Mário's Macunaíma, which became a star, in Joaquim Pedro's, only the blood remains that, inside the well, dyes the olive-green jacket red.

Se Brasilia: contradictions of a new city emerged as a more comprehensive and structured view of the proposals contained in Joaquim Pedro's previous films, Macunaima it imposes the irony and vision of the world that would run through all of his following work, both in mockery and in bitterness.

*Ronald F. Monteiro (1934-1996) contributed to newspapers Correio da Manhã, Jornal do Brasil e press stand, in the magazines Film Guide, Film Culture and Critics' Notebooks and has works published in collective works such asBrazilian Cinema, 70's (Editora Europa, Rio de Janeiro, 1980) andLe Cinéma Brésilien (Editions by the Center Georges Pompidou, 1986). He was responsible for the archive of photographs, publications and documents on Brazilian cinema and for film courses at the Cinemateca of the Museum of Art in Rio de Janeiro between 1967 and 1990.


[1] The filmmaker was born in Rio de Janeiro, in May 1932, and died in that same city, in August 1988, of heart disease caused by lung cancer. His family ancestry, however, was from Minas Gerais intellectuals, the son of the critic, historian and storyteller Rodrigo Melo Franco de Andrade, mentor and first director of IPHAN, the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute. It was to the historic cities of Minas Gerais that his father sent him, little touched by his son's cinematographic inclinations, who had given up his career as a physicist, his university education.

[2] cat leather it began by recording the daily lives of boys from the favelas and their mothers, their activities in the city (shoe shoes, newspaper or peanut sellers). He provided information about the cats, whose leather was used in the manufacture of tambourines to be used in the carnival, and accompanied other boys from the hill who were engaged in hunting cats for sale to the manufacturers of percussion instruments. This entire phase was elaborated in alternating montage, at a pace that already demonstrated the filmmaker's familiarity with the vehicle. Finally, after the boys returned to the hill, a film was dedicated to the only winner of the hunt and the product of his theft: a white angora. In this conclusion, Cat's Leather was concerned with a poetic courtship between the boy and the cat, ending with the delivery of the kitten to the tambourine maker and the boy leaving – as in Chaplin's films – wiping a tear, having in the background and below , the big city. Joaquim Pedro thus managed to reconcile poetry and ideology, without creating the problems that had destroyed his debut project. Cat leather.

[3] For his first fiction feature film Joaquim found a source of inspiration in a poem by Carlos Drummond de Andrade, The priest, the girl which spoke of the kidnapping of a country girl by a priest. It was, above all, a pretext for the director to comment a little on the prejudices of the people of the villages of Minas Gerais regarding religious obedience and liberating love. The priest and the girl – film originally titled black white lace love, using a verse from the poetic text that generated it – it has almost nothing of the original. It has less to do with Drummond's poem than with an amateur story that Joaquim wrote when he was in Ouro Preto, where he went to work for IPHAN. Especially with regard to the development of the character of the girl – Mariana, in the film – and the description of the streets, squares and buildings of the small town, in this case, São Gonçalo do Rio das Pedras. The decadent situation of the local economy – precious stone ore – the exploitative boss and the owner of the local pharmacy, rebellious and impotent, the passivity of a totally elderly population and its submission to a conservative mysticism, are exclusive fruits of the director's head. Except for the thematic resemblance to a Swedish film by Arne Mattson Hon dance in sommar (1951) The last happiness, released among us in 1954. The Swedish, despite the denunciation of a reactionary religious authoritarianism, constituted a neat melodrama, but melodrama. The script and cinematographic time of The priest and the girl brought him closer to tragedy. A tragedy with strong touches of social libel, but a tragedy. With its central characters typified, the fatality of fate contextualized, but no less fatal for that reason: the chorus of old witches set the tone.

[4] Cinema Novo is a masterpiece of didacticism that, however, disorderly, observes the difficulties of producing and directing films, in the period, from raising funding and writing scripts to controlling the exhibition. For this, it served All women in the world, by Domingos Oliveira, Girl from Ipanemaby Leon Hirszman earth in trance, by Glauber Rocha, Public opinion, by Arnaldo Jabor and the big city by Cacá Diegues. And, taking advantage of Glauber's creative delirium, looking for the poetry of creation in one of the film's opening sequences, with the filmmaker combing – or ruffling – actor Paulo Autran in the discussion he has with the poet Paulo Martins (Jardel Filho, the interpreter) in the mansion of the first, or rather, in the corridor of the noble balcony of the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro.

[5] Robert Stam: The Interrupted Show; demystification literature and cinema (from the original in English The Interrupted Spectacle) Editora Paz e Terra, Rio de Janeiro, 1981. 200 pages in 17 by 19,5 cm format.

[6] Heloisa Buarque de Holanda: Macunaima, from literature to cinema. (Originally master's thesis at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro with the title of Heroes of our people) Bookstore Jose Olympio Editora/Embrafilme. Rio de Janeiro, 1978. 128 pages in 13,5 x 21 cm format.

[7] Randal Johnson: Literature and Film; Macunaíma: from modernism in literature to new cinema. (Originally doctoral thesis at the University of Texas at Austin in 1987) Translation of Aparecida by Godoy Johnson. TA Queiroz Editor. São Paulo, 1982. 194 pages in 13,5 x 21 cm format.

[8] Ismail Xavier: Allegories of underdevelopment; New cinema, tropicalism, marginal cinema. Editora Brasiliense, São Paulo, 1993. 284 pages in 16 x 23 cm format.

[9] Haroldo de Campos: Morphology of Macunaíma. Editora Perspectiva, São Paulo, 1973. 220 pages in 11,5 x 21,5 cm format.

[10] Sergio Augusto: This world is a tambourine: Getúlio's chanchada to JK. Companhia das Letras, São Paulo, 1989. 280 pages in 116 x 23 cm format.

[11] Joao Carlos Rodrigues: The Brazilian black and the cinema. Editora Globo, Rio de Janeiro, 1988. 110 pages.

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