Nelson Cavaquinho at home at Mangueira

Samba is not necessarily joyful. Nelson Cavaquinho was one of the great masters of melancholic samba. Death and lack of hope are constant in his more than 600 songs. In one of his masterpieces, “A flor e o espinho” (the flower and the thorn), he sings: “Tire o seu sorriso do caminho/Que eu quero passar com a minha dor/Hoje pra você eu sou espinho/ Espinho não machuca flor /Eu só errei quando juntei minh´alma à sua
O sol não pode viver perto lua” (Take your smile away/Because I want to pass by with my pain/ Today I am a thorn for you/ A thorn doesn’t hurt a flower/ My only mistake was to add my soul to yours/ The Sun cannot live close to the Moon).

In this controversial and beautiful 1969 short documentary by Leon Hirzman, the composer is shown at home, at Mangueira shanty town, singing, opening his heart, drinking, offering beer to a kid. It doesn’t have English subtitles, but it has few dialogues anyway.