Socialist Worker

Behind the Sun: revenge is very sweet

by Rachel Aldred
Issue No. 1792

Walter Salles, who made the acclaimed Central Station, has created a very different but equally compelling new film, Behind the Sun. It is about two families divided by a blood feud in harsh, remote northern Brazil in the early 20th century.

It is beautifully shot and impressively acted by a partly non-professional cast. Tonio and Pacu are the two remaining sons of an increasingly impoverished family. The price they get for the sugar they produce keeps going down, as larger farms produce it more cheaply.

Tonio and Pacu's parents are holding on to all they have left-the destructive 'equality' of an eye for an eye. They feud with the Lourenços, a neighbouring family prospering in the cattle trade.

The stark story unfolds against a background of ritual and metaphor, intense colour often filling the screen. We see the blood-stained shirts hung out by both families as a symbol of revenge to come.

Salles has commented that this is 'not unlike the US flags you see today'. For most of the film Tonio is under sentence of death, and the black armband he wears is a constant reminder of this.

Clara and Salustiano, two circus performers, offer Tonio and Pacu a glimpse of a different way of life, but it's not so easy for Tonio to escape his death sentence. Salles says he hopes his next project will be a version of Che Guevara's Motorcycle Diaries-definitely one to watch out for!

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Sat 23 Mar 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1792
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