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Masterpiece of Brazilian Cinema
on 6 October 2014
Original title in Portuguese is `Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol'; which translates as, "God and the Devil in the Land of Sun". Seen as the leader in Cinema Novo, director Glauber Rocha was just 25 when he made this in 1964. It uses for its message the plight of Manoel - who is a poor ranch hand. They are literally `dirt poor' so in an attempt for change he goes to market to sell his stock. Once there his boss tries to steal his earnings from him by abuse of his authority. Manoel flies into a rage, after reasoning wont work, and he kills his boss.
Now a wanted man Manoel flees with his wife Rosa. He has heard of a living saint in the shape of Sebastião (Lidio Silva), who advocates a lot of bunkum, but also the use of violence. As most of his venom is directed towards the ruling classes, he gets a fair amount of followers from the local peasantry. However, he is far from being benevolent and blood begets blood.
The story moves along with a selection of bandits, corrupt clergy, corrupt government and mercenaries. The madness is almost comedic in places. But this was all seen as an indictment on the current societal condition in Brazil. It reminded me of `El Topo' in places and is said to have been a great influence on many in the industry including Bernardo Bertolucci and drawing praise from the great Luis Buñuel. It is violent but not a gore fest and it is a challenging watch, Buñuel described it as `savage poetry' and I can not put it better myself. But at two hours it may be a tad long for some.
This is a presentation from Mr Bongo films and the print is not a remastered one, so the picture is not all it could be in places. Also this was made in the day when everything was dubbed, so there is little depth to the soundscape, and it is in monochrome but despite all of the above, this is still a phenomenal cinematic feast. This is one for all true cinema fans.