Tuesday, January 6, 2015

429. Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol/Black God, White Devil (1964)

Running Time: 120 minutes
Directed By: Glauber Rocha
Written By: Walter Lima Jr., Glauber Rocha, Paulo Gil Soares
Main Cast: Geraldo Del Rey, Yona Magalhaes, Othon Bastos, Mauricio do Valle, Lidio Silva


I have three movies on tap for today, as I try my best to make some progress and wipe this season out once and for all. I'm ready to be into the double digits as far as how many movies I have left to watch and I'm just so close now. Black God, White Devil kicks off the final fifteen until I present another TOP 20 list. Let's not dawdle...

The main characters are Manoel (Del Rey) and Rosa (Magalhaes), a couple living off the land in a South American village. When a rancher cheats Manoel out of a herd of cattle, Manoel becomes enraged and kills him. Manoel, seeking forgiveness, seeks out the prophet Saint Sebastian, who takes Manoel under his wing and clears him of his sins. It helps that Saint Sebastian's church condones violence and actually preaches it. Now, Manoel and Rosa are a part of Sebastian's congregation, Rose trying her best to talk Manoel into just going home. Manoel won't listen though, following Sebastian loyally. Meanwhile the church hires an assassin to kill Saint Sebastian, citing that he's taking away from their following. The hitman - Antonio das Mortes (do Valle) sets out to find Sebastian, but is too late, as Rosa kills him first via a knife wound. This pretty much covers the first hour of the film and to be honest, that's about all I can tell you, as the subtitles on my copy were pretty out of sync during hour two - so much so that I was completely lost. I can tell you that Manoel and Rosa meet up with another religious figurehead, Corisco (Bastos), who also leads them astray.

There's something about the films of Glauber Rocha that have SOMETHING to them, but it's always lost among the discussion of politics and religion. In Earth Entranced, I can remember being drawn to the images, wanting to like what I was watching, but ultimately being alienated by the topics that either don't interest me or that I have no prior knowledge of. I'd say the same thing about Black God, White Devil - a film that seemed to have a direction as far as plot goes and one that I thought wasn't going to be as difficult as it turned out being. The film had plenty of interesting characters, but just didn't seem to go anywhere and I have to admit, by the time it was over, I was more than ready to be done with it. This is another example of a film that, in my opinion, has no place in THE BOOK and one that should've been replaced during the edits a couple of years ago (was it replaced?). THE BOOK entry for Black God, White Devil begins with a quote from a critic who was overhead comparing Rocha to Sergei Eisenstein, so it's no wonder I don't care for the guy's movies. Although, as I said, there was definitely a spark there that peeked my interest, if only for a few moments of screen time. Certain scenes are powerful, like the one where a scorned Rosa rises to her feet, plummeting a knife into the chest of Sebastian - a great, powerful scene that takes place just after Saint Sebastian murders an infant. Powerful stuff. However, the power fades out quickly and it's Dullsville for the majority. Nuff said...

RATING: 3.5/10  I'm affixing the same rating that I have to Rocha's other BOOK movie, Earth Entranced, because the two frustrated me equally, yet had shades of greatness. Viewer, approach with caution!


January 6, 2015  1:19pm


  1. I will go a fair bit higher than you on this one, but will certainly put it in the 'highly worthy but not that entertaining or rewatchable' category.
    Decidedly one that the book should be 'making ' us watch.. Hey, how many other Brazilian films have we watched from choice? .. But regrettably must count as 'one to get through'

    1. What I'd live is a Brazilian movie that I could call my favorite Brazilian movie - none have been that good yet.


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