It’s so beautiful seeing that “Order and Progress” written at the edge of the South Cross on the Brazilian flag, such as if it were really crossing our skies and claiming to the world we haven’t achieved full-growth yet – but soon enough we will. At the price of what?
This weekend I gladly did a forgiveness ritual to my own general culture – paving some holes in my Brazilian movie knowledge by watching “Iracema: Uma Transa Amazônica” (Jorge Bodanzky / Orlando Senna, 1974) and “Serras da Desordem” (Andrea Tonacci, 2006). Both of them deal at some point with the exploitation and deflourishment of Amazonian forest, the destruction of its natural and social landscapes and its morbid consequences. In both the violence of the social scene shouts at your ears and eyes and there’s nothing you can do about it.
In “Iracema…” the dulling of senses, “reification” of individuals and de-rationalization of relationships – all due to the poverty which is a collateral effect of this so-called “order and progress” that Transamazonica tries to bring over – is so cruel that sometimes illuding yourself with the desire that it’s just a fictional plot and not totally a documentary-style piece doesn’t sound the absurdity it should be. Iracema is an indigenous-descendent young girl with not many perspectives in life than someone with little schooling and far from the big economical centers should be – added to the fact Brazilian dictatorship hadn’t been over by that time – and she gets lost in prostitution. The documentary follows a little of her decadence, which grows bigger as the frames go by. The Paraense landscape seems like an inferno of colours, dust, water, woods, bribery and a kind of dirty sensuality (and literally dirty by the dust and toasted by the caustic Sun) that keeps your attention from beginning to end. Women are nothing else than mere objects, sexual machines that don’t have anything else to offer than their own bodies. There’s somehow a lust for self-destruction and lack of perspectives to those people that makes the movie really shocking and interesting at the same time (I don’t know how long it took to be exhibited and how Bodanzky and Senna did with the 1970s censorship, but bearing this in mind makes the documentary even more interesting). All in name of Order and Progress.
On the other hand, the greener-framed and relatively more peaceful plot of “Serras da Desordem” shows the story of Carapiru, a guajá indian who had lost his whole family when his community went under attack from hitmen hired by tycoons who wanted to chop the trees down from a protected reserve and make money with it. This indian could save himself “by accident” and then wandered until he found a little village where the people took him over and reintegrated him in the community. Then the authorities came to know about it and took him again, so that Carapiru could go back to the Guajás that remained. All the story went to the media and further and very emotional happenings take part in the documentary. It’s very interesting that this identity issue is so strong here, specially for the strong connection man-nature that Tonacci wants to stress by the documentary. It seems that the good savage from Russeau has lost his home and with it, his own identity and inocence. The sadness of Carapiru eyes every time he changed environments, hidden behind a complacent smile also puts a question mark on the quest of our identity as the Brazil we are as well. It gets back to Iracema on the violation of self, loss of roots and lack of perspectives.And not only that. But just watching them a person could attest it.
It’s beautiful and violent at the same time… these are the kind of movies that you can’t be indifferent towards and really feel you have learned something and changed some points of view. It’s the kind of healthy violence that everyone should receive a little shock-treatment with to be healthier.