Black God, White Devil
(Glauber Rocha, 1964, 120 min, Brazil, Portuguese with English subtitles, DCP)
— Introduced by Prof. Gustavo Furtado (Romance Studies/Cinematic Arts); Q&A to follow
A landmark work of militant cinema and a key film of the Cinema Novo movement, the then-25-year-old Glauber Rocha’s second feature begins in the 1940s as a ranch laborer named Manoel (Geraldo Del Ray) finds himself in conflict with his boss, who is trying to stiff him on payment; Manoel kills the boss and heads out on the lam with his wife (Yoná Magalhães). The two become self-styled outlaws and, later, join up with self-appointed saint Antonio das Mortes (Mauricío de Valle), who preaches a gospel of meeting the violence of the world with still more violence. A film at once alluringly mystical and radically political, Black God, White Devil interweaves documentary elements and iconoclastic formal experimentation to yield one of world cinema’s all-time great shots across the bow.
New 4K restoration from Metropoles Productions, based on original 35mm materials preserved by the Cinemateca Brasileira. Restoration by CineColor Digital and JLS Studios.
“Rocha’s hectic drama is, in effect, a political Western that rages at Brazil’s governmental corruption and plutocratic oppression. His raw, grand, urgent images—and the raucous, incantatory soundtrack set against them—seem to erupt with long-suppressed anger. Despite its heroic energy and impulsive youth, it’s a bleak philosophical work of its time, a bitterly terrifying vision of no exit.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker
“Combining Dada, surrealism, anarchy, mystical Trotskyism, candomblé, and the anthropophagic tropicalism of the modernist poet Oswald de Andrade, Rocha flummoxes, perverts, howls with freedom and despair.” – Carols Valladares, Gagosian Quarterly