The Films of Joaquim Pedro de Andrade series continues with this hilariously biting adaptation of Mario de Andrade’s eponymous novel, itself a canonical text of early Brazilian modernism. Published in 1928, it tells the story of “a hero without a character,” the son of a native Indian who is born black, spends the first six years of his life without uttering a word (due to “laziness”), and turns white before venturing into the capitalist jungle of São Paulo. In the filmic version of the story, the main character is very much an ordinary man, and the only magical elements that remain are his transformation into a white man and Macunaíma’s use of macumba—an Afro-Brazilian religion that mixes sorcery and ritual dance. The protagonist is played first by Grande Otelo (black Macunaíma) and then by Paulo José (white Macunaíma), two of Brazil’s most celebrated actors. As Macunaíma ventures into São Paulo, he falls in love with Ci (Dina Sfat), fathers a black son (also played by Otelo), and is co-opted by terrorists who enlist him in their schemes—all the while encountering Brazilian folk legends and orixás along the way.
Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, Brazil, 1969, 35mm, 95 min., Portuguese w/ English subtitles
About The Films of Joaquim Pedro de Andrade
In collaboration with Kino Lorber, Lightbox presents a retrospective of the work of Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, one of the most important figures in the Cinema Novo movement that transformed Brazilian film in the 1960s and ’70s.