Bye Bye BrasilBreak out the caiprinhas. Hit play on the bossa nova album. It’s time to talk Brazil. Brasil! Pra mi, pra ti. Hard to mention without humming, isn’t it? The country captures the collective imagination perhaps like no other, immediately inspiring sensory delight.
Yet, despite popular sentiment, Brazil isn’t all Ipanema beach bathing beauties and samba. Believe that and you ignore the complex intricacies of the vast nation. Yet, it’s not difficult to understand why the international fascination with Brazil focuses mostly on one city—Rio de Janeiro. (And what a spectacular city it is). We’ve been conditioned by countless images of picturesque Rio. With not too much else to compare it to, why would we think differently? Carlos Diegues' 1979 film Bye Bye Brasil is an invitation to do just that. To visit the places and faces that normally escape the camera’s eye: the hard-as-nails folk of the drought-stricken sertão, the displaced indigenous of the interior, the hustlers of the isolated Amazon and booming port-town of Belem, to name a few. Nominated for Cannes' Palm D’Or, much has already long been said of the film and its not so merry band of circus performers since its release. And if so inclined, we invite our readers to review some of the film criticism of the movie and its unique treatment of technology, internal migration, prostitution, progress, deforestation, etc. Been-Seen will leave that to the more academic of the cinefiles out there. We like the way it looks. Bye Bye Brasil is a late 70s snapshot of the Brazilian frontier, the often forgotten backlands and those who inhabit them. Seen, for most of us, for the first time.
The samba stays in Rio. Instead we get some Bee Gees covers em portugues. Nao bossa, but forro yes. Somewhat absurd, a little sad, and a bit kitsch, Bye Bye Brasil is an unforgettable journey into the Brazilian unknown. Perhaps it's best we let the director decribe his film in his own words. “The idea was to make, precisely, a film about a country shortly to be born in the place of another on the brink of disappearance: the change of one country by another and at the very moment when such a change had not yet been made. A moment in which the archaic co-existed with the modern, when that old Brazil was still there, together with the new Brazil… in a certain way, I am announcing a new Brazil, different from the one we knew, a Brazil, above all, based and inspired in the mixture of all those different cultures, being them of our origin as a nation or the ones that daily affect us today. Therefore, I think this film was made with lots of love, a love all too great for the country as well as for the characters that cross this country … In this sense, I think Bye Bye Brasil is, above all, a film about change.”