This chapter considers the performance of songs in the musical comedy films known as chanchadas, which dominated film production in Brazil from the late 1930s to the beginning of the 1960s, and initially at least took their inspiration from the Hollywood musical. It analyses, in particular, the soundtrack of an emblematic example of this cinematic tradition, Aviso aos navegantes, to illustrate the growing aural eclecticism of the chanchada, and to suggest that its relationship with Hollywood is not simply founded on naive mimesis. The disavowal of Afro-Brazilian identity in the casting of the chanchadas is endorsed by their soundtracks, which similarly 'whiten' Brazilian demographic and musical realities. The performances of samba on screen by white stars were stripped of Afro-Brazilian ethnic markers, save the non-threatening visual cue of the stylised baiana and malandro costumes.
This book provides a chronological study of popular cinema in Brazil since the introduction of sound at the beginning of the 1930s. It begins the study with a brief discussion of how people understand the term 'popular cinema', particularly within a Latin American context. The focus is on films that have intentionally engaged with 'low-brow' cultural products, whose origins lie in pre-industrial traditions, and which have been enjoyed by wide sectors of the population, chiefly at the lower end of the social hierarchy. Perhaps the most important contribution of the chanchada of the 1950s was to render visible a social class within Brazil's socio-cultural landscape, and to champion the underdog, who succeeds in triumphing, through malandragem, over more powerful opponents. Brazilian popular cinema, at least until the 1980s, can be seen as a direct descendant of other shared cultural experiences. Popular film in Brazil is littered with examples of carnivalesque inversions of societal norms and established hierarchies. The 1930s witnessed the rise of the radio, the record industry and the talking cinema. The first half of the 1940s witnessed a continuation of Getúlio Vargas's quest for economic expansion based on the creation of a dignified workforce, rewarded for its efforts by improvements in the welfare system. The book also looks at three very popular cinematic sub-genres which provided a continuation of the chanchada tradition in Brazilian filmmaking: the films of Amacio Mazzaropi; those of the comedic quartet known as the Trapalhoes; and the so-called pornochanchada series of films.
This book explains how the famous Spanish singer and actress Imperio Argentina starred in a film, Carmen, la de Triana, that was made in Berlin under the auspices of the Third Reich. It examines the Transition between the dictatorship and democratic eras in four films featuring performances in which transgendered protagonists lip-synch to songs from the Hispanic diaspora. The book considers how punk music and its attendant sensibility and cultural practices were profoundly influential in Spain throughout the early years of democracy. It focuses on one of the most financially successful Spanish films of the last ten years: El otro lado de la cama. The book moves to how punk music and its attendant sensibility and cultural practices were profoundly influential in Spain throughout the early years of democracy. This was when the Spanish version of British punk's irreverence, playful and disrespectful attitude toward art, bad taste, and corrosive humour nevertheless failed to capitalise on the political overtones of the original movement. The book lays emphasis on music as an indicator of the attitudes, social hierarchies and demarcations of youth but marks a shift in focus towards flamenco. Continuing the interwoven themes of rootlessness and evolution, it examines the diegetic and non-diegetic contribution of songs to representative films of the so-called 'immigration cinema' genre within Spanish cinema. Next come the exploration of transnationalism, migration and hybridity by exploring the role of Afro-Cuban song, music and dance in two films from Mexican cinema's golden age: Salón Méxicoand Víctimas del pecado.
In terms of the number of Brazilian films made and their respective boxoffice success, the 1970s was one of the most important decades in the history of Brazilian cinema. This chapter considers some of the reasons for this success, including the creation of a state film distribution agency, a sizeable increase in the national film quota, the proliferation of 'quota quickies' and a loosening of censorship restrictions. The first part of the chapter looks at three very popular cinematic sub-genres which provided a continuation of the chanchada tradition in Brazilian filmmaking: the films of Amacio Mazzaropi; those of the comedic quartet known as the Trapalhoes; and the so-called pornochanchada series of films. The second part concentrates on three of the biggest box-office successes of all time in Brazilian cinema: Carlos Diegues's Xica da Silva; Bruno Barreto's Dona Flor e seus dois maridos and Neville D'Almeida's A dama do lotação.
At the beginning of the 1980s, many of the elements that both benefited and influenced Brazilian cinema in the second half of the 1970s continued to be present, such as favourable quotas and greater freedom for filmmakers afforded by abertura or the process of political opening up. This chapter considers a number of commercially successful films, ranging from Diegues's Bye bye Brasil and Ruy Guerra's Ópera do malandro. These are considered as examples of the new approach of veteran cinema novo filmmakers to depicting popular culture and making popular cinema, to examples of the ever-popular cinema rodrigueano in the 1980s, and the so-called 'abertura naturalism' films. The chapter mentions the impact of the consolidation of the hard-core porn genre on Brazilian culture and society. In 1988, only two films reached that level, revealing the extent to which the legacy of the chanchada lived on at the Brazilian box-office.
In the early 1990s, the demise of the Brazilian film industry seemed certain. It is worth remembering that while by the late 1990s, a healthy thirty-five to forty films were made each year in Brazil, few of these gained more than a limited art-house release. Commercial viability has encouraged many filmmakers to turn to the popular cinematic styles and tropes of the past. Others have relied on the continued success of national television programmes and contemporary popular music, for example, to create films starring popular performers from both domains. The success of the retomada is also partially due to a number of talented individuals who have been involved in various projects over the last few years, lending the renaissance, despite its variety of themes and styles, its own look and language. Brazilian cinema in the 1990s, and continuing into the first few years of the twenty-first century has been eclectic.
Popular film in Brazil has historically been characterised by a city-countryside dialectic, to give just one example. This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in the previous chapters of this book. The study presented has established the multiple roots of commercially successful cinema in Brazilian popular culture, such as the teatro de revista, the circus and carnival. The chanchada, from its inception in the 1930s, harked back to a pre-industrial era, rejecting modernity and urbanisation in favour of the nostalgic assertion of traditional values of friendship, camaraderie, neighbourliness and a community lifestyle typical of rural regions or the poor suburbs of the big cities of the South. In popular film, the precarious and fragmented nature of everyday life for the poor is mirrored in the constant interplay between fantasy and reality, carnival interludes and the daily grind.
This introduction presents the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book provides a chronological study of popular cinema in Brazil since the introduction of sound at the beginning of the 1930s. It begins the study with a brief discussion of how people understand the term 'popular cinema,' particularly within a Latin American context, drawing on the work of some of the most influential cultural theorists who have written about the region. The focus is on films that have intentionally engaged with 'low-brow' cultural products, whose origins lie in pre-industrial traditions, and which have been enjoyed by wide sectors of the population, chiefly at the lower end of the social hierarchy. The book's approach is one of anthropological tracing, focusing on the way film uses cultural practices that exist prior to or outside the mass media.
Brazilian popular cinema, at least until the 1980s, can be seen as a direct descendant of other shared cultural experiences. This chapter maps the key sites of mediation between popular cinema and wider cultural traditions in Brazil. Popular cinema in Brazil has often engaged with elements of the nation's most famous and pervasive festival, carnival. During the silent era, carnival was the focus of much interest among Brazilian filmmakers, and it has been estimated that between 1906 and the arrival of the talkies in the early 1930s around fifty shorts were produced using footage from the annual celebrations in Rio. Popular film in Brazil is littered with examples of carnivalesque inversions of societal norms and established hierarchies. The various influences on popular film that have been examined here serve to establish the shared cultural repertoire of film audiences in Brazil.
In 1930, the political landscape of Brazil experienced a seismic shift. The 1930s witnessed the rise of the radio, the record industry and the talking cinema. Popular culture as a whole became the focus of the attentions of Vargas's propaganda-mongers, and a delicate balancing act of co-option and censorship was employed to enlist the support of popular musicians and artists in the construction of a nation-conscious mythology. The arrival of the talkies in Brazil prompted a wave of musical films that relied on the talent and popularity of established stars of the teatro de revista, popular music and especially the radio, and combined carnival songs with comic dialogues that everyone could understand. These Brazilian musicals sought to tap into the public's fascination with Hollywood glamour and movie stars, and it has been argued that Brazilians made sense of these unsophisticated home-grown replicas via their prior knowledge of the US originals.