ByPaula Lemos, writer at
22. Brazilian. Advertising student. Frustrated script writer. Loves beaches, sun, music, movies, books, fashion and cooking/eating.

Macunaíma, a bizarre, allegorical and low budget adaptation of the modernist literary classic work of Mario de Andrade, written 20 years before of the movie release. Directed and scripted by the brilliant Joaquim Pedro de Andrade.

Brazil, 1969. Five years later of the beginning of a military dictatorship that would last another 16 years more, a total of 21 years of a whole country living under fear and oppression, citizens being killed everyday just for speaking what they were thinking or just for being who they really were. Many of us, the ones with some money in the bank, had to run away to others countries in search of exile and some peace.

Brazil and the "years of lead"
Brazil and the "years of lead"

The main character: Macunaíma (starred by Grande Otelo), an Indian that has no character, the anti-hero of the story. His name means in indigenous language something as "big evil", since "maku" is "bad" and "íma" is "big". He represents the society, the Brazilian people, and laziness was his main feature. Local characteristic rather hyperbolically used by foreign cultures to represent me and my people, but little do they know that laziness was a slave resistance strategy, the lords could not challenge it because they believed it was of their nature.

Macunaíma is a free man with characteristics of the three ethnic groups forming the Brazilian identity: the Black, the Indian and the white European.

The birth of Macunaíma alludes to the birth of Brazil itself. Soon after birth, the "mother" (a white male dressed as woman, as a metaphor of the colonizing European) has only the feeling of contempt for the child. Both, the Indian and the Country, born without a father, born already grown up, without childhood.

The birth, 1969 - Condor Filmes
The birth, 1969 - Condor Filmes

Thereafter, the hero moves in its joyful and painful path in the wild hallucinations, first as black then turning white (child x adult) and leaving the interior in exchange for the city in the company of two brothers. In the city, follow your mocking way, in living with prostitutes, millionaires villains and characters of all stripes. In the end, after the chaos, the return to the "jungle".

The final scene, with an amazing song by Heitor Villa Lobos, explicit terror of the dictatorship lived at the time. With an olive green clothing (Brazil's flag), Macunaíma is devoured and your costume is bathed in blood, expressing the hero devoured by Brazil itself, a reflection of what were the "years of lead".

The film was released one year after the enactment of AI-5 (Institutional Act No. 5), facing obstacles imposed by the military dictatorship and suffering 15 cuts by the censors.


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