For decades, Walter Avancini, 62, who has been a television director since 1958 and during the pioneer years of Brazilian TV, has had a knack for making waves on the tube. Always controversial, the director has been in the news lately for introducing some very spicy ingredients into a novela (soap opera) about Xica da Silva, a black slave turned into a powerful woman by her Portuguese lover in 18th-century Brazil. As he has often done in the past, Avancini, chose to star in Xica da Silva a virtually unknown actress with a pretty face but little acting experience.
Taís Araújo, the chosen girl, was still a minor when she started in her starring role last year in the Manchete TV novela and the TV station was even given a small fine for filming her naked before she was 18. At the end, Pygmalion was complaining that his creature was rebelling against its creator. "I had with Taís an agreement of freedom to work with the body, a sine qua non condition in order for me to hire her. She has been doing a xiquinha (little xica) and not the Xica da Silva that I imagined," he complained when the internal spat became public.
Tempers flared and sparks flew in the last few weeks of shooting. After exposing herself in several nude scenes ("Taís covered her breasts' tips with adhesive bandages," complained Avancini), the actress asked for a body double for a scene suggesting anal-sex. The director didn't like the actress stubbornness and ended up scrapping that scene. Taís has already moved to Globo TV where she started shooting Anjo Mau just a few days after finishing her participation in Xica.
The Xica da Silva story, a prime-time novela, has been an interminable sexual happening, with constant controversies being used to keep up high ratings for the usually low-rated Manchete network. "Globo is bigger than any product, it already has its captive audience," says Avancini, who has already worked for the Globo Network, which maintains a quasi monopoly over the airwaves. "I need to use different elements as an attraction in order to create news and get some space in the media."
He is certainly good at this. Initially, Xica da Silva presented the obligatory under-the-cascade nude scene with model Adriane Galisteu, who became a celebrity after her boyfriend, race car driver hero Ayrton Senna, died during a competition. The episode about possessed nuns engaged in a sex orgy with a priest was never aired, however, due to the commotion the news caused when word got out about the scenes, presented as a "sexual scandal of sex-maniac nuns."
American actors Denzel Washington and Whoopi Goldberg were also invited for small parts, but both declined. Set on keeping the controversy going up to the last episode, Avancini brought in former porno star, Hungarian-Italian Ilona Staller—better known as Cicciolina—to interpret the role of ficticious Italian princess Ludovica, who comes to Arraial do Tijuco, the story's location, under the pretext of collecting funds for building a convent. Naturally, business with her is better done in bed. Upon her arrival, Ludovica almost drowns and is saved by a hero who is paid, you guessed it, with a steamy night in bed.
Cicciolina, 45,who became famous during her victorious naked-breasts campaign for a seat in Italy's Lower House —she was a parliament member from 1987 to 1992—was paid a meager $7,000 for participating in five episodes of Xica da Silva. Cicciolina who was very humble during the shooting, seemed worried about learning her lines (spoken in Italian and translated by an interpreter into Portuguese) and raised her 18th-century dress high enough so photographers could see she wasn't wearing panties. But she refused to talk about her custody dispute over her four-year-old son with former husband, American Jeff Koons.
Another international porno star, Sylvia Kristel of Emmanuelle fame, was also considered. She would come as a Madam with the mission of opening a whorehouse. Xica da Silva had also plenty of gory scenes.
A confessed workaholic, the teledrama director of bankruptcy-prone TV Manchete is a respected professional who has brought to the small screen some of the best works and authors of Brazilian literature, including João Guimarães Rosa (Grande Sertão Veredas ), João Cabral de Melo Neto (Morte e Vida Severina), Jorge Amado (Tocaia Grande), besides classic authors José de Alencar and Machado de Assis. Avancini is also known for discovering and making stars out of nobodies.
Marília Pera and Glória Menezes, for example, are two veteran stars who had Avancini's helping hand. Avancini also created Sônia Braga, choosing her to star in theGabriela novela in 1977. Five years earlier he had transformed Regina Duarte into Brazil's sweetheart, after giving her the starring role in Selva de Pedra (Stone Jungle). In 1985, he revealed the fine actress in poet-model-muse Bruna Lombardi casting her as Diadorim, a woman dressed as man in Guimarães Rosa's Grande Sertão: Veredas. Bruna ended up doing one of the most memorable nude scenes of the Brazilian cinematography.
The director is already planning other media attention grabbers for Mandacaru, the novela that will replace Xica da Silva in August. It will be a story set in the '30s in the backlands after the death of legendary bandit Lampião (1898-1934). The main plot has Maria do Carmo, a political boss's daughter, who is coveted by two men—Tirana, a cangaceiro (backland outlaw) and Lieutenant Aquiles.
Six other novelas are being prepared for release in the next few months on competing TV networks. SBT (Sistema Brasileiro de Televisão—Brazilian Television System) has three of them: Chiquititas, a co-production with Argentinean TV Telefe; Pérola Negra (Black Pearl), and A Pantera (The Panther).
Globo also has three soap operas in the oven. Anjo Mau is a remake of a 1976 original by Cassiano Gabus Mendes. The text has been updated for the '90s by playwright Maria Adelaide Amaral. The wicked nanny, the main character, will be played by Glória Pires. Manoel Carlos's Por Amor deals with the daily conflicts of middle-class families. Also in the works is Antônio Calmon's Corpo Dourado (Golden Body), a reference to tanned bodies on the beach.
The "world's largest Catholic country" doesn't have a saint it can call its own. Not officially anyway. The death of frei (friar) Damião on May 31, at age 98, after a 19-day coma at Hospital Português in Recife (state of Pernambuco), reminded Brazilians that they had their own Mother Tereza and also showed how official religion can be distant from the voices on the streets. During the three-day wake there were lines up to three miles long leading to Basílica da Penha where people could stay only ten seconds in front of the coffin. Police estimate that 300,000 people came from all over to say their goodbyes.
For decades, Frei Damião, born Pio Gianotti in Bozzano, Italy, was considered a holy man and images portraying him can be found in chapels all over the Northeast. Many even believed that he never ate or slept. Popular repentistas (improvisers) have also immortalized him as a myth through literatura de cordel, booklets printed in cheap paper.
Since 1931 when the young Capuchin arrived in the northeastern backlands and started preaching in Gravatá, Recife, he never left the region, preaching in some 800 cities in the area. Damião never lost his accent and has not naturalized as a Brazilian. He also never abandoned his fire-and-sulfur kind of sermons, which condemned to hell even seemingly light sinners. "In hell," he used to say, "the heat is a billion times hotter than in the Northeast. The flames rise and burn without stopping the bodies of the adulterous, prostitutes, effeminate and criminals."
He also condemned dancing ("When a man and a woman get together to dance, nothing good will come out of it."), mini-skirt and pants for women ("For women who wear long pants there is a place reserved very deep in hell."), the pill and sensual kisses ("A kiss given in a girlfriend's cheek is no big deal, but a kiss on the mouth or a tongue kiss, this is a sin. The couple will go to hell head first.")
Even when the Vatican II Council in the `60's changed the ways the church dealt with the faithful, Frei Damião stuck to his old style. That made him persona non grata to the Catholic Church hierarchy, which forbade him from preaching in several dioceses. Even when dozens of thousands of people showed up to bid farewell to their saint, the Church maintained a cautious distance. Many miracles have been attributed to him. The Theology Institute of Recife catalogued more than 80. Many of them related to disgraces that befell on those who refused to follow his advice.
Legend has it, for example, that an adulterous man, though still young and healthy, died 15 days after being advised but not following instructions to abandon his lover. In a story from Juazeiro do Norte, Ceará, a father and daughter who lived as husband and wife are told by the religious man to abandon that life or risking being transformed into animals. They don't listen to the friar's advice and next thing they know they are bleeting as goats. He is also credited with several instances of rain.
Frei Damião's canonization process can only start in five years. It will be an uphill battle, however. Brazil has had only two people beatified—the first step in a canonization— by the Church in 500 years. The first one was the Spanish Jesuit priest José de Anchieta (1534-1597) who played a key role in the cultural adaptation of the Indians in the early years of Brazil in the 1600s. His beatification came in 1980. In 1981, Italian nun mother Paulina do Coração de Jesus Agonizante also passed the first step to become a saint.
Son of a general and the brother of two other generals—one of which was João Baptista Figueiredo, Brazil's President during the recent military dictatorship—Guilherme Figueiredo always preferred to fight on battlefields of words. Known as extremely devoted to friends, he also made several enemies, such as Italian director Franco Zefirelli, whom he accused of stealing his ideas to make The Young Toscanini.
Writer Guilherme Figueiredo was putting the last touches on his memoirs' book, A Bala Perdida (The Stray Bullet), when he died of cardiac arrest at age 82 at the Hospital Samaritano in Botafogo, a neighborhood on Rio's southside. "It's a methaphor on every one and life's determinism," he told Rio's daily O Globo when asked about the book. "In Brazil, we all risk dying from such a bullet."
"I never understood why he never was admitted to the Brazilian Academy of Letters," commented after his death renowned actress Tônia Carrero, who debuted on stage in 1949 playing alongside another Brazilian stage monster, Paulo Autran, in Um Deus Dormiu Lá em Casa (A God Slept at My Home). Figueiredo's failed 1962 attempt to be elected to the Academy inspired As Excelências—ou Como Entrar para a Academia (The Excellencies—Or How to Enter the Academy).
The observation of human foibles was also the inspiration for his most successful book, Tratado Geral dos Chatos (General Treatise on Boring People), which sold 100,000 copies, in a country where the sale of 10,000 books is considered bestselling). Tratado originated from his observations of guests at parties given in Paris by the Brazilian embassy, where Figueiredo was cultural attaché beggining in 1964.
Born in Campinas, São Paulo state, on February 13, 1915, Guilherme Figueiredo was only 17 when invited by legendary media mogul Assis Chateaubriand (1892-1968) to work at Rio's daily A Noite . It was the start of a literary career that would make him a celebrated playwright and novelist. A graduate in law, he never practiced it. He spent many years writing music, theater and literary criticism. He was just 21 when he published his first book in 1936. It was the work of poetry Um Violino na Sombra (A Violin in the Shade). Three years later, his Greve Geral (General Strike) premiered on stage and his first novel (Trinta Anos Sem Paisagem—Thirty Years Without Landscape) was published.
The theater would be his medium par excellence. A Raposa e as Uvas (The Fox and the Grapes) was his best known play and it has been performed in 50 countries. He also wrote novels (Viagem —Trip, Cobras e Lagartos—Snakes and Lizards, Maria da Praia—Mary of the Beach) and short stories (Rondinella e Outras Histórias—Rondinella and Other Stories).
During his stay in Paris from 1964 to 1968, Figueiredo dedicated himself to writing novels and newspaper crônicas (literary short pieces). From 1979 to 1985, the period in which his brother was President, he refused to write these crônicas so he wouldn't be accused of using information obtained from Brasília's high echelons. Out of respect for his brother he refused to grant interviews or to talk in public while João Figueiredo was in the presidency, but he never hid his scorn for censorship: "Yes, I accept censorship, but that of the public who doesn't go see bad plays and doesn't read back books."
Yankee arrogance and condescension suffered a rude blow during the recent conference in Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais state) of 34 countries of the Americas—Cuba was not invited—to discuss the future of ALCA (Área de Livre Comércio das Américas—Americas' Free Trade Area).
While the U.S. was pushing for a fast opening of South America's markets, Brasília's position—which defends slower integration and would delay such an alliance until 2005—prevailed.
Four years ago, the U.S. didn't see any chance for Brazil to join NAFTA (North American Free Trade Association), the economic alliance among Mexico, the United States and Canada. Today, Americans are coveting the rapidly expanding markets of Mercosul, which are led by Brazil and Argentina. Curiously, as recently as February, U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky, showing no courtesy or diplomatic restraint, called Mercosul that "little market". In Belo Horizonte, Brazil and Argentina left it clear that from now on they are not the U.S. backyard. "The monologue has ended," said Diego Guellar, Argentina's ambassador in Brazil.
Responding to frequent American accusations that Brazil imposes undue barriers to international trade, Cardoso argued in Belo Horizonte: "Hemispheric integration depends much more on the capacity of the countries in the North opening their markets than on our disposition for integration."
Without significantly developed industry like its northern neighbor, it is natural that Brazil fears being invaded by cheaper and better products made in the U.S.. And Brazilians want to be prepared to make such a trade a little more even. They also know that behind all the American rhetoric about free markets, Uncle Sam has a pocketful of wicked little tricks that keeps Brazilian products from the Yankee market.
Accusing Brazil of subsidizing some export products, the US imposes surtaxes of up to 90% on Brazilian raw products for steel manufacturing and 80% on orange juice, in addition to different rates for another 26 items. The northern big brother also welcomes some agricultural products such as melon, as long as they are off-season up north, but they will not touch Brazilian beef since, according to their convenient story, Brazilian cattle has disease and, yes, they will buy Brazilian sugar, but only in very limited quantities.
According to an impartial source, the Europe-based International Institute for Management Development (IMD), the holier-than-thou U.S. ranks 29th in free market conditions out of a list of 46 countries. Brazil comes in just a little lower at the 35th position. The actualization of ALCA will constitute a powerful economic block, larger than that of the European Union, with close to 800 million people generating $9 trillion in annual trade.
The recent bomb thrown at the PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores—Workers' Party) by one of their own has badly hurt a group whose main capital is its perceived integrity. In an interview with São Paulo's daily Jornal da Tarde, economist Paulo de Tarso Venceslau unveiled some controversial deals between some PT administrators and Roberto Teixeira, godfather and best friend of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, two-time presidential candidate and PT's honorary president. The commotion also served to make public that Lula has been living for free at a house of Teixeira since 1989.
Lula resigned his post in the party while the matter is being investigated. Critics, however, didn't see this gesture as anything more than a useless cosmetic fix. They point to the fact that the accusations had originally been made in 1993 and that no serious investigation was made at that time. Only when Tarso went public was the matter taken seriously. This is seen as a grave flaw in a party ever so eager to start parliamentary inquiries whenever any shadow of impropriety is spotted in their neighbors' backyards.
According to Tarso, a former guerrilla who took part in the 1969 kidnapping of the American ambassador in Brazil, Charles Burke Elbrick (who was later exchanged for 15 jailed guerrillas),Teixeira, using his relationship with Lula, intermediated deals between a consulting firm called CPM (Consultoria para Empresas e Municípios—Consultancy for Business and Municipalities) and several cities governed by the PT. Many of the contracts ended up being signed without proper bidding. For a 20% commission, CPM offered ways to raise the amount of taxes collected in the municipalities.
A poll conducted by Informestado, right after the accusations were published, revealed that 56 percent of the population didn't trust the PT. Before the scandal this number was 47 percent. The affair was even more damaging for Lula. From those interviewed 70 percent said the PT leader was dishonest and not to be trusted. The number of those who though that before Tarso's disclosure was only 57 percent.
In the few months he has been heading Rio's Municipal Traffic Secretariat, Military Police colonel Paulo Afonso Cunha has become the terror of all those who disrespect the law by, among other things, parking on sidewalks or ignoring pedestrian crossways. Invited by Rio's mayor Luiz Paulo Conde to put a semblance of order to the city's traffic chaos, he has taken his mission seriously, personally commanding some blitzes aboard his powerful shiny motorcycle. One little detail though: While championing the fight against illegality, Cunha never took the trouble to get a special license to drive his moto. After the press revealed this little fact, the lawless chaser alleged ignorance of the law. Rio's Detran wasn't happy with the bad example and was menacing to deprive the colonel of his driver's license.
"Yes," said Xuxa, "I'm game", when CBS TV came to her with the question: "Would you like to be on a remake of the I Love Lucy show?" That was an easy answer. TV-star and singer Maria da Graça Xuxa Meneghel, 34, keeps a collection of most of the episodes of the Lucille Ball's tremendously successful show from the 1950s. And it was also an easy question. The invitation to Xuxa came only after research by CBS in Mexico, Spain and Argentina revealed that the gorgeous Brazilian blonde was the favorite to duplicate Ball's success.
A pilot should be ready soon. There is also talk of a Portuguese and even an English version later. The show will be shot in Spain, the personal preference of Xuxa, whose mother lives there. The entertainer is entering this venture with a good dose of humility. "I know I will never replace Lucille Ball," she says. The actor who will be playing the new Desi Arnaz, Lucy's husband, has not been chosen yet. Anyone interested? By the way, the TV show will be called Te Quiero Xuxa.
Olsen is asking $750,000 in damages for what he calls unfair firing. He alleges that he was given the pink slip after refusing to adopt what he considers discriminatory procedures to grant visas. The consulate created a series of codes to evaluate candidates for an American visa. Here are some of them: LP (looks poor), LR (looks rough), RK (rich kid), TP (talks poor), and the ultimate big-brother suspicion: TC, meaning take care.
Cases of buzzards being sucked up by jet turbines and putting passengers' lives at risk have been frequent at Rio's Galeão International Airport. After the scare of being in an airplane that swallowed one of these birds, renowned singer Gal Costa has gathered signatures in a letter asking for prompt measures from the government to solve the problem, which is apparently linked to the presence of a sanitary dump operated by the city in the Duque de Caxias neighborhood. Comlurb (Companhia de Limpeza Urbana—Urban Cleaning Company), the organ responsible for the refuse in the area, says that its operation is clean and that the buzzards are being drawn to clandestine trash deposits. Garbage truck drivers are paid between $10 to $30 for each truckload of refuse they deliver to these unauthorized places. The most coveted cargoes are those coming from the supermarkets.
While Diet Coke boasts healthy sales in the U.S., the product, eight years after its release, is dying fast and will soon disappear from the Brazilian market. Brazilians never liked either the diet epithet, which reminds them of deprivation, or the saccharine and cyclamate taste added to the soft drink. In its place Coca Cola is offering Coca Light, which uses aspartame as sweetener. In the Light version the flavor is much closer to that of Classic Coke. As for calories, Diet and Light are comparable. Coca Cola has 52 percent of the Brazilian market for soft drinks, against less than 10% for Pepsi
Traditional names are in for new Brazilian parents. At the beginning of the new millenium, kindergartens and elementary schools will be filled with Antônias, Beneditos, Franciscos, Joãos, Manoelas, Sebastianas and the butt of so many jokes about the Portuguese Manoels and Joaquims. Behind this trend is the desire of young couples to recapture an old Brazil from colonial times using traditional Portuguese and African names. According to USP (Universidade de São Paulo) psychologist, Elaine Rabinovitch, who for years has been studying how Brazilians name their children, the "clean fad" has passed. And with it the use of short and distinctive names such as Júlia, Pedro, and Lucas.
After the recent decision in Geneva, Switzerland, by the Telecommunications International Union to create new domains (those three letters at the end of a Web site address), Brazil decided to go its own way. The Brazilian Internet Supervising Committee has opted for these new appendices: .art (for artistic activities), .esp (for sports), .ind (for industries), .etc (for miscellaneous), .inf (for information providers), .psi (for access providers), tmp (for temporary events). The international list includes designations such as .firm, .info, .store, and .web, none of them adopted by Brazil.
"This is a very happy day," commented President Fernando Henrique Cardoso when he learned that a constitutional amendment had been approved by Congress allowing him to be a candidate for a second term in the nation's highest office. This was a personal victory for FHC. Other similar attempts to change the constitution in 1934, 1946, 1988, and 1993 failed. It is the first time since the proclamation of the republic in 1889 that presidential reelection will be allowed.
It wasn't smooth sailing all the way though. Both Houses of congress had to vote twice and victory was far from certain. The revelation that at least two congressmen had sold their votes almost sidetracked the whole process. But the opposition's cries of foul play were smothered and the government was able to dissuade their foes from starting a parliamentary inquiry on the matter.
It was going, going, gone for the March 31 celebration in Brazil. According to the military, the date marks the day of the "glorious revolution" also known as "the redeemer", the coup d'état that in 1964 deposed then-President João Goulart. For most of the population, however, March 31 was the beginning of a dark era of repression, torture, lack of freedom and unchecked corruption. Even after the return to democracy, the Armed Forces continued to celebrate the date. Last year there were no celebrations, but only recently the Diário Oficial (the federal government daily newspaper) scrapped the March 31 as a military civic celebration. It was about time. President Fernando Henrique Cardoso was one of the victims of the dictatorship and had to leave Brazil for exile.
Would you like to know what internationally renowned sociologist and polyglot Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who happens to be Brazil's President, thinks about the political opening, or human rights, or the press, and other themes like health, national security, sports, tourism, the Amazon? It has never been so easy. There are 5,000 pages of this material at your fingertips on the Internet. Just type: http://www.cepesc.gov.br/fhc/fh.htm
The FHC site contains Fernando Henrique's classes, speeches, interviews, radio shows, and conferences. It is not an exhaustive compilation, however, but a series of excerpts chosen by officers from the Armed Forces. Maybe that is why in 16 references to Congress, for example, there is only praise for the lawmen.
When police officer Nélson Oliveira dos Santos Cunha, 29, was condemned to 261 years in jail last November, the decision was hailed as a new era in which police atrocities wouldn't go unpunished. Cunha was convicted of murder in a July 23, 1993 massacre on the steps of the Candelária church in downtown Rio, that left eight street children dead. Like any other Brazilian condemned to more than 20 years in prison, the policeman was granted automatic retrial.
This time a jury, by 4 to 3, chose to acquit him on all eight counts of murder even though he was identified as one of the killers by some of the 60 children who survived the early morning attack. Cunha himself has admitted having participated in the killing raid, but denies having killed anybody. He will remain in jail, though, serving an 18-year sentence for attempted murder. Commenting about the conviction reversal, Rio's District Attorney José Munhoz Pinheiro said, "This decision shames our society." Prosecutors are now thinking about requesting a third trial.
"Thanks but no thanks and keep your hands off," was the Brazilian response to the announcement that Uncle Sam had readied an elite force to "defend the Amazon forest". The news was given on June 4 by U.S. Navy lieutenant Jane Campbell, spokesman for the Panama-based South Command. Apparently this green troop has been getting ready for four years now.
The Brazilian government, though, despite insistent coaxing from the United States has until now refused to engage in joint military exercises in the Amazon with the Americans. "The Amazon forest is being preserved by Brazil and we don't need any military help for this preservation," said Brazilian brigadier Sérgio Xavier Ferolla from the Supreme Military Tribunal to weekly newsmagazine Isto É. "The Amazon, as Brazilian territory, has to be duly respected by foreigners."
Who is Brazil's most influent lawmaker in Congress? You might be in for a surprise. The DIAP (Departamento Intersindical de Assessoria Parlamentar—Inter-Union Department of Parliamentary Assistance) asked the same question to the congressmen themselves. The winner was Inocêncio Oliveira, neither a household name nor a politician belonging to a political clan or the PSDB (Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira — Brazilian Social Democracy Party), the governing party. Oliveira, a non-assuming doctor and businessman on the center right, is the leader of the PFL (Partido da Frente Liberal—Liberal Front Party), a group allied to the government. He is praised and respected by all political currents, according to the poll, thanks to his coherence and for being a man who keeps his word.
Completing the list of the 10 most powerful legislators were: 2. Senator Antônio Carlos Magalhães (PFL, Bahia); 3. Representative Luís Eduardo Magalhães, son of Antônio Carlos (PFL, Bahia); 4. Representative Michel Temer (PMDB, São Paulo); 5. Representative José Genoíno (PT, São Paulo); 6. Senator and former President José Sarney (PMDB, Amapá); 7. Representative and ex-Finance Minister Delfim Netto (PPB, São Paulo); 8. Representative Miro Teixeira (PDT, Rio de Janeiro); 9. Senator Eduardo Suplicy (PT, São Paulo), and Representative and former Planning Minister Roberto Campos (PPB, Rio de Janeiro). Curiously, the leader of the government in the House, Aécio Neves (PSDB, Minas Gerais) came in 26th place.
The recent election results in France and England has the PFL (Partido da Frente Liberal—Liberal Front Party) fearing for its life. The party that has assured the victory of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso is afraid that voters will see them as conservative come the 1998 elections. To prevent such a perception they are planning to change the party's name from PFL to PSL (Partido Social Liberal—Liberal Social Party). Problem is, Brazil already has a PSL, which has a sole representative. Both parties are now talking about a friendly takeover.
Seventeen years after his first trip to the country Pope John Paul II will be back in Brazil in November. In July 1980, John Paul visited, among other places, the Vidigal favela (shantytown) in Rio, where he was saluted with some music called "João de Deus" (John of God). Composed by favelado Marcos Sete, the catchy tune became a national hit. Sete still lives in Vidigal and once again he prepared a song for the Roman Catholic chief. While "João de Deus" had naïve and upbeat lyrics, "A Volta do Papa", the new ditto, talks about despair and misery.
…É duro o papa voltar
Dezessete anos depois
E ver que as famílias não têm
Pra consumir o feijão com arroz
As cadeias estão cheias
De negros e favelados
Ricos cada vez mais ricos
Na hora da divisão
Esquecem nossos valores
Todos falam em Jesus
Poucos são seus seguidores
When released in 1953, O Cangaceiro (The Backlands's Bandit)—presented in the U.S. as The Bandit— turned into an instant national and international hit. Director Vítor Lima Barreto (1905-1982) became Brazil's first internationally renowned filmmaker, and his work won a Cannes International Film Festival prize for best adventure film. O Cangaceiro was shown in 82 countries and ten million Brazilians (one quarter of the population at that time) saw the movie.
The movie has been remade by Aníbal Massaini Neto in Pernambuco's arid lands. The new version has plenty of music with the prominent participation of famous accordion player Dominguinhos, enough sex even for the more voyeuristic of movie fans, and lots of blood and gratuitous violence. While inspired by the old Hollywood westerns, O Cangaceiro has no white hats. Everybody wears black, including the police. Two women, rich Olívia and Maria Bonita are essential to the plot. Bandit Galdino's (actor Paulo Gorgulho) wife, Maria Bonita (Luíza Tomé) loves the more refined and kind Teodoro (Alexandre Paternost). But when both men fight, it is over pretty Olívia, interpreted by Ingra Liberato.
The latest version also introduces a new character. He is the boy Tico (Tom Cajueiro), who while living with cangaceiro Galdino's band bears witness to all their atrocities, and as an old man in prison (Jofre Soares in his last role before dying in August 1996) serves as a narrator for the horror yarn.