Visual Images of Brazil


The Brazilian artist Alexandre Riviello’s lecture on 7th of February was about the Brazilian film industry. The lecture was started with the questions: how much do films usually reflect reality? What does reality even mean? And from whose point of view do you choose to reflect the reality?

Many Famous Brazilian movies are about the favelas, just like Cidade de Deus (City of God, 2002), which was a huge success; everybody was talking about it when it came out and it won many prices. But the question is: does it show a truthful image about Brazil?


Another big success is the Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad, 2007) series, already two movies have been done that show violence, humiliation, power structures inside the police, corruption, etc. Is this the reality of Brazil?


Some argue that movies representing the Cinema Novo movement are more truthful to the real Brazilian reality, for example directors such as Glauber Rocha shared this vision. Cinema Novo was the Brazilian version of the Nouvelle Vague in Europe, a reaction against the predominance of Hollywood. The movies were often done without a script, and the (sometimes amateur) actors were improvising with the help of the director. They had their own political view of Brazil. They wanted to film what real life is in Brazil, but what is real life actually? Do old movies actually give you more and better responses?


We watched the film O Bandido da Luz Vermelha (1968) by Rogério Sganzerla.


Chanchada, and later pornochanchada in the 80’s, is another important issue in the Brazilian film industry. They are movies made just for pure entertainment, trying to compete with Hollywood. Actors like Carmen Miranda have helped to strengthen the stereotype about passionate, sensual, happy, dancing Brazilians, and also Latin Americans in general. How much does these films represent the reality?


The film industry can have a very big influence on how people perceive reality, and especially movies that become very popular can help to improve or damage the image on a certain culture, country or people. It is hard to answer the question how much films reflect reality, but one must indeed admit that they play a big role in people’s imagination and opinions.

By Fanny Nummi