Black God White Devil

Certain other vegetable based websites (I did have to check out the vegetable Vs Fruit question, its a vegetable by law in case you were wondering) would have you believe this is the greatest film ever. Ever. This is precisely why you need to head here instead, here is the straight talk. This isnt exactly the easiest watch. By that I mean it is a series of events puncutated by infanticide, rape and really long and confusing speeches. I know the last one really doesn’t match the other two in terms of seriousness, but they all fall into the category of things that make this film rather challenging. Generally its rather plot light, the two protagonists, man and wife, wander around a bit. The man becomes a cult member, then joins some bandits whilst the wife seems to stand around a lot generally not saying much, but doing an exceptional job of conveying a “oh what the fuck is he doing now, why the hell did I marry this idiot” attitude. This gives film maker Rocha an excuse for all those long confusing speeches, which are about awful life in Brazil is (was, at the time) for … well … just about everyone. Because we meet so many different people we get all sorts of different viewpoints – it means there isnt really a massively cohesive ‘this film is about’ moment – its got something to do with finding ones own place in the world, twinned with the aforementioned social commentary. I am not sure of the extent to which you could read this as allegorical for the country as a whole, I dont personally posses enough knowledge of what was going on in Brazil at the time to do this. The rather cool thing about it all though is that whilst some of this is ridiculously overt (those speeches again, that infanticide…), a lot of it is left to the viewer to fathom. The main protagionist doesnt really say much at all, perhaps because everyone else is too busy speeching all over the place, but I like to think more so the viewer can inhabit him, his motivation is never explained so it is what ever you want it to be. When he joins a quasi-religious cult early in the film he just dives right in – it might be because the leader is so charismatic, but it might equally be that he has really nice feet, everyone is pretty eager to kiss them – the film still works either way. It looks brilliant too, one chap, an erstwile Jack Sparrow does such a good job of being a sort of swashbuckling bandit that I didnt even mind that I was really stuggling to work out what he was on about, I would have joined his gang at the drop of a hat were it not for the raping of the rich folk. He played a mean piano too. Black God White Devil is two hours long, I wouldnt dismiss it, certainly if you are less ignorant of Brazilian history and culture than I am it would probably be quite interesting, even important, I just wouldnt watch it with some friends and a few beers.

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