You may question the narration and its predictable cliches and prejudices, but these historic footages are true gems. Tough to choose a favorite (ok, if you insist, the 1932’s and the 1955’s are the best).
1932 – Includes a pretty disgusting scene where the narrator mentions the “infinite variety of tropical animals” found downtown, while the camera closes on a cute little Black girl. Also to be noted the comment that carioca’s resent the monopoly of the word Americans by those born in the States. Pay attention also on the explanation about the “butterfly industries” and the ornamental black and white stone pavements.
Almost all Brazilian cities were constructed around a central square which generally includes the main church or cathedral, gardens, cement benches, a fountain and, in many cases, also the city hall and a prison. Frequently, there is also a bandstand that may host musical shows or political speeches. Check some of these cool examples of bandstands – coretos in Portuguese – and feel the nostalgia.
Centenarian Oscar Niemeyer, the internationally acclaimed architect, just published a book with photos of the 16 gorgeous churches and chapels he conceived. A historic communist – who designed the headquarters of the French Communist Party and never rejected his Stalinist views -, he explained this way his many religious projects (on daily paper Folha de S. Paulo):
I felt that I should explain it, because I am a communist and have been working on so many churches. But I was born in a very religious family. My grandfather was religious. The house where I used to live had five windows and one of them was converted into an oratory by my grandmother. We had masses at home. All this is very natural. Continue reading Communist Niemeyer’s churches→
Ceramist Francisco Brennand is probably the greatest Brazilian sculptor in activity. Inspired by the works of Pablo Picasso, Joán Miró and Fernand Léger, that he met during his studies in Paris, he developed a style that mixes surrealism and anatomy, fertility goddesses and tribal totems.
The best place to see his production is his personal museum, Oficina Brennand, in Recife. It is installed in the old ceramic tile factory built by his father in 1917 and displays not only thousand of pieces of his art but also a garden conceived by great landscape artist Roberto Burle Marx. The New York Times just wrote about it.
The photos made by Marc Ferrez during the last years of the Empire and the beginning of the Republic regime are the best register of life in Rio between the mid 1860s and the late 1910s. He left more than 5,000 images, most of them portraying the city, then the Brazilian capital.
Nowhere in Rio you get a better view of the coast and the gorgeous geography than from the top of the favelas. These shantytowns have been included in city tours for a while, in part because of their strategical location,in part because of their music tradition, or because of their mystique. The favela reality is frequently misunderstood both by those who dream of this mystique and those who equal these environment to a drug-infested mob-headquarter. Neither is accurate, of course.
This wonderful series of videos can offer a vision closer to reality. They interview and follow residents of 9 favelas cariocas while they show their houses, the little bars and soccer fields, the landscape and daily lives.
Enjoy the tour:
1 – Santa Marta – this video, produced by Pedro Serra, with subtitles in English, introduces the favela where Michael Jackson made the 1996 “They Don’t Care About Us” video clip.