Brazil Cinematography 2

Brazil Cinematography Part II

But above all we must remember A voz do carnaval (1933), directed by Gonzaga and Mauro, the first film starring Carmen Miranda and the first comedy that opened the doors to chanchada, a popular comedy characterized by a rough comedy and the inclusion of musical numbers.. Successes that did not prevent the Cinédia from serious financial difficulties. Brasil Vox Filmes was founded in 1933 by actress Carmen Santos. In 1935 it changed its name to Brasil Vita Filmes and became the second Brazilian film studio. One of his first films, Favela dos meus amores (1935) by H. Mauro, was a great success, as well as Cidade-mulher (1936) and Argila (1940), both directed by Mauro and starring Carmen Santos, and Inconfidência mineira (1948) interpreted and directed from Santos itself. The history of Brasil Vita Filmes also experienced ups and downs: the main problem was naturally that of the domination of the market by foreign productions: in 1935 Gonzaga participated in the foundation of the DFB (Distribuidora de Filmes Brasileiros), which associated the main producers to avoid a useless competition that damaged the national cinema in favor above all of the American cinema. In 1932, during the provisional government of G. Vargas, the first law on cinema came into force, who intervened on the programming in theaters by providing that each foreign feature film was combined with a short film of national production. It was necessary to wait until 1939 for a law to be passed that established the minimum number, one per year, of national feature films to be screened in theaters, a number raised to three per year in 1946.

Comedies and chanchadas: the forties

In 1941, a new film company was founded that would dominate the entire decade, Atlântida Cinematográfica. Born under the impulse of various personalities of the Brazilian film world, Atlântida managed to put together the capital necessary to build a studio and to equip it with second-hand technical equipment, and to produce documentaries and newsreels. In 1943 he produced his first film, Moleque Tiâo, directed by José Carlos Burle and starring Grande Othelo. In the following years he guaranteed continuity to the production of the chanchadas, whose fortune in turn favored the emergence of a group of actors who would become the true cinematographic faces of the Brazil: Mesquitinha, Oscarito and Grande Othelo. The chanchadas of Atlântida played a fundamental role in the history of Brazilian cinema, a role whose importance was recognized only much later. In 1946 the company was bought by Luiz Severiano Ribeiro Jr, the country’s largest exhibitor and owner of the distribution company União Cinematográfica Brasileira.

The birth of modern cinema: the fifties and sixties

According to, the economic growth and the modernizing policy implemented also on the cultural level during the presidency of J. Kubitschek de Oliveira (1955-1960) also had repercussions on national film production, which passed from the ‘artisanal’ phase to a more properly ‘industrial’, careful also to the technical and aesthetic quality of the films. At the beginning of the 1950s the film company Vera Cruz was born in Sao Paulo, created by Franco Zampari and Assis Chateaubriant, which was the main interpreter of this transition and which represented the promise of a new Brazilian cinema, capable of applying the production logics and commercials of the Hollywood majors. The birth of Vera Cruz and the advent of television pushed the film industry, and in particular Atlântida, to improve their technical-organizational level and to explore new areas. The chanchada, whose elementary structure was integrated into the subjects and scripts, was flanked by political satire films (Matar ou correr, 1954, by Carlos Manga) and parodies of the American film genres (Nem Sansão nem Dalila, 1954, parody of the film by Cecil Brazil DeMille, again from Manga). Watson Macedo, principal director of Atlântida, consolidated the most famous couple of Brazilian cinema, Oscarito and Grande Othelo, and with them he made Aviso aos navegantes (1950) and Aí vem o barão (1951). The film that marked the history of the company was Carnaval Atlântida (1952) by JC Burle, a parody of the chanchada, represented as the only possibility of making films in a country where large productions remained unachievable.

However, light and musical comedies began to age, above all due to the exaggerated repetition of a language that seemed increasingly worn and outdated. A wider awareness of the problems that afflicted Brazilian cinema began to spread, together with the awareness that a good technical level was not in itself sufficient to guarantee a culturally strong aesthetic. Italian Neorealism had a profound influence on the intellectuals of the time, and stimulated the birth of what would soon become the new Brazilian cinema, the Cinema Nôvo (v.), more sensitive to social denunciation. The 1950s were decisive for the development of the city of Sao Paulo, destined to play a hegemonic role in the political and cultural life of the country. The metropolis gave birth to an important theatrical movement with the foundation of the Teatro Brasileiro de Comédia and the development of the plastic arts with the opening of the Museu de Arte Moderna, but above all to a real cinematographic center constituted, in addition to the Vera Cruz, from at least two other important studies, Maristela and Multifilmes.

Brazil Cinematography 2