Glauber Rocha has a couple films on the list, which is something given how I, and probably most other moviegoers (even the hardcore ones), have likely never heard of him. From what I gathered reading the Book’s entries, both of his films deal with critical time periods in Brazil’s history, and this one, Earth Entranced, may be the most volatile of either of them. Still, as important as these films must be to history, and also to the list, that doesn’t make them any easier to watch, and that’s a problem I ran into once again with this one. It’s modestly made (though it might deserve an extra point or two depending on what the average Brazilian film was at the time), but that and its historical value are all that it has going for it, and when “modestly made” is at or near the top of your list of selling points, you might want to reconsider trying to sell it in the first place.
The film opens on a man with a gun, denouncing his apparent leader for surrendering to an uprising rather than fighting to quell it. We flash back on the journey the man, Paulo Martins, takes to get to that point, where he first hears about this promising new candidate for governor Felipe Vieira, decides to throw his support behind him, then have his new world come crashing down on him when his, and the people’s, supposed savior turns out much different than he and they expected. Naturally, because the film was made during a hotbed of political activity, the film itself is a giant metaphor for the state of its government at the time. Those of you who have a copy of the Book can read the first and last paragraphs on this one to get a better understanding of what these metaphors may mean, but for those of you who don’t, you are likely not as interested in knowing this information enough for me to try and make sense of it myself, with my limited knowledge of foreign politics. This is another example of a film that relies a little too heavily on handheld camerawork, including in scenes and shots where it’s not warranted, and this sort of thing bugs me. I’ve made mention of why I find it such a problem in the past, and I probably will again in the future, so I’ll spare you the lengthy rant for now. The film also had a habit of using on-screen text to denote locations and changes, which was a bit unexpected to see outside a more modern film. As I mentioned in the opener, there’s not too much to take note of with this one; it’s as competently made as just about any other foreign film of the time period. And again, points off for the overdubbing. I can understand why it was needed, with what must have been the limited filmmaking tools and techniques in Brazil at the time, but it’s just something I can’t get past.
Even with my aforementioned limited knowledge of foreign politics, I could still make out a lot of what this film was trying to tell me, so kudos to the filmmakers for managing to get that across to a wider audience than their native one. Still, that sort of stuff just isn’t very interesting to me, and while I can acknowledge its importance (as I have maybe a few times too many in this review), I can’t fully give it a recommendation as a result. I could think of some poly-sci majors that might be interested in this one, but for moviegoers, this might be a little too heady to bother trying to wade through it. You’re welcome to give it a try, but as for me, I won’t be looking forward to Rocha’s other film on the list.
Arbitrary Rating: 6/10