Rocha, Glauber, Antonio das Mortes, in Roteiros do terceyro mundo, Rio de Janeiro, 1985.
Second Wave, New York, 1970.
Martinez, Augusto, and Manuel Pere Estremera, Nuevo cine latinoamericano, Barcelona, 1973.
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Callenbach, Ernest, ''Comparative Anatomy of Folk-Myth Films: Robin Hood and Antonio das Mortes,'' in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Winter 1969-70.
Interview with Rocha, in Afterimage (New York), April 1970.
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McGuinness, Richard, in Village Voice (New York), 21 May 1970.
Interview with Rocha, in Cineaste (New York), Summer 1970.
Hitchens, Gordon, interview with Rocha, in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Fall 1970.
Wallington, Mike, in Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1970.
Fisher, Jack, ''Politics by Magic: Antonio das Mortes,'' in Film Journal (New York), Spring 1971.
Haakman, A., ''Antonio Das Mortes, de mooie revolutie,'' in Skoop (The Hague), vol. 8, no. 5, 1972.
Simsolo, Noël, ''Antonio das Mortes,'' in Image et Son (Paris), March 1972.
Proppe, Hans, and Susan Tarr, ''Cinema Novo: Pitfalls of Cultural Nationalism,'' in Jump Cut (Chicago), June 1976.
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(Norwich), Summer 1980. Mistron, Deborah, ''The Role of Myth in Antônio das Mortes," in
Enclitic (Minneapolis), Fall 1981 and Spring 1982. Vega, J., ''Glauber Rocha: el santo guerrero del cinema novo,'' in Cine Cubano (Havana), no. 134, 1992.
In his lyric-mythic epic, Antonio das Mortes, Glauber Rocha creatively integrates elements of Brazilian popular religious culture, politics, folklore, social history, music, literature, and dance. Because of this thoroughly Brazilian context, the film is difficult for foreign viewers. Furthermore, the emblematic characters are not simple allegories but rather complex, synthetic creations representing real or fictional persons, social types, mystical or mythic motifs, social movements, or ideas.
The complexity of these unusual characterizations is exemplified by the protagonist, Antonio das Mortes. This figure had appeared in
Rocha's earlier film Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol. According to Rocha, Antonio das Mortes is based on a historical figure, the bounty-hunter who in 1939 succeeded in killing Corisco, a famous cangaceiro (bandit) of the Northeastern backlands. In the film Antonio first appears as a jagunco (hired gunman) contracted to kill cangaceiros and protect a powerful landowner. After mortally wounding the cangaceiro Coirana, Antonio undergoes a political conversion and becomes a revolutionary who uses his rifle against the forces of oppression represented by the landowner and his hired gunslingers. The ending of the film is ambiguous in terms of the possible future role of the lone revolutionary. Antonio is last seen as a solitary figure walking—rifle in hand—down a backlands highway past a Shell Oil sign; the suggestion may be that a lone gunman can provoke a revolutionary situation in an underdeveloped regional setting, but he will be unable to halt massive exploitation in the new era of the multinationals.
In Antonio das Mortes, Rocha reworks the Christian myth of St. George versus the dragon in terms of Brazil's mythical consciousness. The St. George and the dragon myth is announced in the film's opening triptych and alluded to in a closing sequence: in three rapid montage shots. Antao lances the landowner from horseback. Antonio das Mortes is not the only warrior saint, or St. George figure, in the film. Antâo, whose name is similar to Antônio's, is a black associated with Afro-Brazilian religions. Antâo's conversion from passive religious follower to armed warrior continues the tradition of black revolt in Brazil.
In order to ritually reenact the St. George and the dragon myth, Rocha theatricalizes the continuity of his film and its mise-en-scène. Many of the scenes take place in stage-like settings such as the cavern-amphitheater or the village square. The costuming, choreography, and the use of color, poetry, and music recall theater and opera. Rocha's method of shooting imitates theatrical time and space. He prefers either lengthy sequences with a few cuts or long sequence shots. Conventional shot-reverse shot or cross-cutting are generally rejected in favor of capturing the scene's significant elements within the shot and the frame.
Rocha has argued that Brazilian filmmakers should not use European and American cinematic strategies and techniques to depict Latin America's unique social problems. In Antônio das Mortes, Rocha seeks to contribute to the decolonization of Brazilian cinema by meshing new cinematic strategies with Brazilian reality. One such strategy is Rocha's use of a Brazilian color code: the bright colors of buildings and costumes are natural and authentic colors that convey cultural significance for Brazilian audiences. During the location filming, Rocha drew directly on the knowledge and experience of the backlanders. The music and the dancing of the Antônio-Coirana duel scene are largely a creation of the local people.
Antônio das Mortes was well received by the Brazilian film-going public. In Europe and the United States, the film was widely acclaimed by critics, and a debate erupted concerning the film's revolutionary qualities (or lack thereof). Today most critics regard the film as one of the greatest achievements—both aesthetically and culturally—of the Brazilian Cinema Novo.
Johnny Seven (Karl Matuschka); Naomi Stevens (Mrs. Drefuss); Frances Weintraub Lax (Mrs. Lieberman); Joyce Jameson (Blonde); Willard Waterman (Vanderhof); David White (Eichelberger).
Awards: Oscars for Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Original Story and Screenplay, and Best Editing, 1960. British Film Academy Awards for Best Film and Best Foreign Actor (Lemmon).
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