Antonio das Mortes (1969)

Antonio das Mortes (1969)

“God made the world; the devil made the barbed wires.”

A Brazilian outlaw known as Antonio das Mortes (Mauricio do Valle) is hired by a corrupt police chief (Hugo Carvana) to kill a revolutionary known as Coirana (Lorival Pariz), but eventually has a change of heart and tries to convince a blind, wealthy landowner (Joffre Soares) with an unfaithful wife (Odete Lara) to distribute his food to the masses.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Hit Men
  • Revolutionaries
  • South and Central American Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “major work of Brazil’s Cinema Novo” — a “myth-epic” — was “a very popular film among U.S. and European leftists at the time of [its] release.” He describes it as a “political allegory” that “is both extremely theatrical and, at times ritualistic”:

… and points out that viewers will “be reminded of Sergio Leone’s Clint Eastwood bounty-hunter films, Eastwood’s [non-GFTFF-listed] Joe Kidd (in which he turns against the men who hired him), El Topo (the bearded Do Valle looks like a fat Alexandro Jodorowsky), Godard (if he ever made a period piece, it would be similar), and South American dance, folkloric, and religious pageants.”

Peary argues that while the “picture is ambiguous at times and downright weird at others,” it’s “endlessly fascinating and colorful” and features “fine photography.” Martin Scorsese is also a diehard fan; on YouTube you can find a 25 minute interview of him discussing this movie and the impact it’s had on him as a filmmaker.

I’m less impressed. While it’s easy to see how movie lovers in the late 1960s would hail director Glauber Rocha’s flick — a sequel to his earlier Black God, White Devil (1964) — for its bold break from stylistic and narrative conventions, it’s more of a political and cinematic curiosity today. With that said, film fanatics will still likely be curious to check out either this film, Black God, White Devil, or the middle film in Rocha’s “trilogy”, Entranced Earth (1967) (the latter two titles are listed in 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die).

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Affonso Beato’s cinematography

Must See?
No, though it’s recommended for its historical relevance.


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