Rocha and Cinema Novo Movement essay


A modern cinema industry is mostly associated with American films, which represent a variety of similar topics mixed with different special effects. In general, there is a tendency for the domination of films from the USA, which is supported with award ceremonies as Oscar and others. That is why some people may think that the world’s culture has no significant phenomena in the domain of cinematograph. At the same time, the historical analysis of the subject may prove the opposite. Thus, one of the peculiar events in film history is the evolvement of Cinema Novo movement, which characterizes this industry from the view of the Third World. Moreover, it presents some cultural references as well as unique technical aspects, which classify the Cinema Novo as a phenomenon, which significantly differs from its counterparts. The evolvement of this genre is connected with the name of a Brazilian director Glauber Rocha. Aside from being a film director he wrote essays representing and explaining his view regarding Cinema Novo and its relationship with the rest of the world. The analysis of his movie and written work allows enhancing the understanding of the place of Cinema Novo in the world’s cinematograph. Cinema Novo, created in the context of the third world, was used as a tool, which criticizes the movies of developed world for its political and aesthetic misconceptions.

An Esthetic of Hunger

Before characterizing the movies of the period of the Cinema Novo, there is a need for the analysis of general positions of its maker regarding his creation. Glauber Rocha expressed his attitude towards the cinematograph and its relationship with the Third World in the essay “An Esthetic of Hunger”. In this essay, the author proposes a new film practice, which suits the Third World due to its social, economic, and cultural contexts. The most common conditions depicted in such films are poverty, significant influence of domestic culture and myths and special accent on an interpersonal relationship. In fact, the result of the absence of advanced practices and technical appliances from the developed countries makes directors create a special accent on obvious things in real life. At the same time, this method by no means represents primitivism of the thoughts and characters of the protagonists. Glauber Rocha claims that the rest of the world seems to treat his films with misunderstanding or misconception. Thus, he indicates that the final movie product in Cinema Novo was the result of “philosophical undernourishment” caused by economic and political conditioning. The main idea expressed in the essay is that the understanding of some critical aspects of life becomes possible because of horror and violence. Moreover, these actions should have deep cultural and historical causes, which, in the case of the Third World, was colonization. Thus, the colonists become aware of the colonized because of the emerged violence, which represents a love of action and transformation. These concepts seem to be hard to understand by the developed world because its countries were developing in different ways. Moreover, their citizens were hardly aware of the critical conditions of people in Brazil and other similar countries. Additionally, he claims that this originality of ideas caused by the cultural hunger and “greatest misery” is “not intellectually understood” not only among Europeans but the majority of Brazilians. That is why such cultural hunger and expressions of violence addressed by Cinema Novo require adequate explanation by the author.

Furthermore, there is a need for characterizing a Rocha's film “Barravento” and a film by Satyajit Ray “The World of Apu”. Both films represent cultural realities of the colonized countries as well as discuss social relationship based on the represented cultural realities. Thus, the filmmakers represent their countries as poor from the position of economic and social development. At the same time, it is crucial to make an accent on the characters of the protagonists. The reason for it is that both directors made the accent on such aspects as love, will, interpersonal conflicts and complicated relationship. That is why these movies indicate that a film may be great even without visual aesthetic luxury since it has luxury of the soul of the main heroes. Both movies are not colored and represent ordinary citizens and ordinary cultural situations. Thus, “Barravento” focuses on socio-political problems between the colonists and colonizers settled in Brazil and busy with fishing. At the same time, “The World of Apu” discusses the destiny of a Bengali man, who married a woman with a mental disorder but become a traveler after her death during childbirth. Despite the similarity of inspirations and intentions the movies have differences, which represent cultural peculiarities of the colonist countries. Thus, Brazilians have a peculiar accent on social struggle and intimacy whereas the Indians discuss the problem of socialization. At the same time, one may regard these problems similar but depicted through different cultural frames. The reason for it is that both pictures highlight the impact of customs and traditions whereas African Brazilian and Indian traditions significantly differ. Thus, the primary aesthetic value of these pictures is their cultural connection and representation of the native customs, traditions and problems peculiar in the Third World. Therefore, these movies were not a tool for enjoyment but an observation and thinking over one’s life.

Moreover, the represented movement had a dialogue with Italian Neorealism and The French New Wave. As Rocha sees it, such films represent the truth and opposite the repression of intellectual censorship. At the same time, he applies the principle of violence to French realities indicating that “the first policeman had to die before the French became aware of Algerians”. At the same time, some kind of the dialogue between the movements might be traced regarding the overall context of the simplicity and underdevelopment. Thus, scholars indicate that the movies of the Third World never ceased to be underdeveloped, which indicated on the similarity of forms of Neorealists and the New Wave. Moreover, some part of the simplicity was directly borrowed by Rocha from the French movies, among which was “politique des auteurs” and theatrical “mise-en-scene”. Therefore, the main indicators of similarity between the three movements were shared concepts of revolution and primitivism, which were seen as the indicators of specialness. The makers of the discussed films tried to face their viewers with social problems depicted with hyper realism and simplicity. From the one hand, some of them failed because of Rocha’s claims of misunderstanding. However, such movies influenced the audiences’ moral growth allowing understanding the complexity of the depicted problems. Therefore, the world’s cinematograph was enriched with the genre of Cinema Novo. Its primitivism and revolutionism influenced the specific attitude towards protest movements indicating that violence leads to social revolution.


Summarizing the presented information, the paper concludes that Cinema Novo is a significant phenomenon in the world of the cinematograph. Addressing the socio-economic, interpersonal and inner problems through primitivism and extreme realism, it brings the idea of the problematic development of the Third World. Thus, cultural undernourishment, political and economic problems caused film directors creations of films with simple forms and complex inner structure. Thus, despite the protagonists are ordinary people, the complexity of their characters and the difficulty of their relations may astonish the viewer. Thus, the appearance of Cinema Novo is a peculiar event in the history of the Third World and the world of the cinematograph.

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Rocha and Cinema Novo Movement essay

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