Category Archives: Film

Tragicomic film translations

a mulher que morreu duas vezes“Vertigo”, the Hitchcock masterpiece with James Stuart and Kim Novak, had its title translated as “A Mulher que Viveu Duas Vezes” (The Woman that Lived Twice) in Portugal – a massive, humongous spoiler. Also, I heard more than once that Portuguese christened “Psycho”, another Hitchcock’s, as “O Assassino era a Mãe” (The Killer was the Mother), an even worse spoiler, but I suspect this one is pure urban legend.

Ah, the bizarre mistranslations cinephiles have to endure!  These are my two favorites:

  • At some point, in the Spanish version o “Pixote”, the 1980s Brazilian classic about homeless kids, someone says that one of the children’s mom lives “en la sombrereria” (a literal translation of “na casa do chapéu“, an expression that means “really, really far away” in Portuguese). So, the translator understood that the lady lived in a hat shop. Later, in the same movie, a transvestite boy asks the main character if he thinks they might have a better future. In the original, Pixote says, no, we are doomed, while in the subtitles he says something like: “sure, Lilica, I am sure we will have a bright future”. This one was certainly a volontary mistranslation that intended to give the scene a more cheerful tone.
  • In the Brazilian translation of “Au Revoir les Enfants”, by Louis Malle, a war story where a Jewish boy hides in a French boarding school, another kid offers him a ham sandwich which the Jewish boy refuses. “Jambon” (ham in French) was translated as “geléia” (jam), destroying the logic of the scene. Continue reading Tragicomic film translations

12 best characters of Brazilian literature

“Reinações de Narizinho”, Monteiro Lobato’s book that introduces the character of Emília and launches children’s literature in the country.


Listas Literárias blog asked its readers what were the greatest characters of Brazilian literature. I tend to agree with the results and organized the names in no particular order.


1 – Macunaíma – “Hero without character” conceived by Mario de Andrade in the crazy and iconoclastic twenties. A playful Black man born fully grown from a Amazonian Native mother, he becomes white after bathing in a miraculous spring and moves to Rio where he gets involved with social turmoil.
Grande Otelo incarnates Macunaíma in the 1969 film by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade

Coffin Joe on The New York Times

Photo by Rafael Hernandez/ Flickr

Campy horror film master José Mojica Marins, aka Zé do Caixão or Coffin Joe, is the star of a story just published on the New York Times website by former Brazil correspondent Larry Rohter:

SEATED on a sofa in the living room of his modest apartment here, dressed in shorts and flip-flops, José Mojica Marins seems inoffensive. He is mild mannered and soft-spoken, and nothing suggests he has made a career of writing, acting in and directing provocative horror movies with titles like “Hallucinations of a Deranged Mind.”

But Mr. Mojica’s cinema alter ego, Coffin Joe, a crazed and sadistic undertaker who always appears in a uniform of black, complete with top hat, cape and gruesome fingernails, is a different story altogether.


You will be able to read the full version on the next Sunday paper edition. Or, check this little video summary prepared by Rohter.


Brazilian ingenues

Lelita Rosa and Carlos Modesto in “Barro Humano”/Human Mud (1927/29)

Brazil had its own ingenues – national versions of the naïf but sexy leading ladies that Hollywood made famous in the first decades of film making. If the US had Claudette Colbert and Clara Bow, Brazil had Lelita Rosa, Didi Vianna and Tamar Moema, who starred Humberto Mauro’s movies in the twenties and thirties. Considered the greatest Brazilian early film maker, Mauro directed “Ganga Bruta”, “Brasa Dormida” and 12 other movies.

Check here his muses’ performances:

Lelita Rosa

Continue reading Brazilian ingenues

Carmen Miranda impersonations

Photo by Eric and Christian/Flickr
Photo by Eric and Christian/Flickr

Always imitated, never equaled, singer/actress/persona Carmen Miranda died in 1955, but she remains one of the country’s main icons and ambassadors. A favorite of comedians and drag queens, Carmen is frequently impersonated. This is just a little sample:

First, the hors-concours comedian Lucille Ball, followed by Brazilian rocker Rita Lee, Italian actor Ricardo Billi in 1951 film  “Arrivano in Nostri”, and Derico (musicianat Jô Onze e Meia Brazilian TV program).

Continue reading Carmen Miranda impersonations

Capitães de Areia – the movie

Only two Brazilian writers made it internationally: Paulo Coelho, best-selling author of mystical parables, and Jorge Amado, the politically engaged storyteller that eviscerated the society of the state of  Bahia.

Amado, who would be a 100 next year, was active in the Communist Party and his social concerns show in his literature. “Capitães de Areia” (Captains of the Sand), one of his first books, published in 1937, tells the story of street kids from Salvador, Bahia’s capital. It was converted into a film to be released in Brazil next October by Cecília Amado, grand-daughter of Jorge. The score was produced by Carlinhos Brown.

This is the preview:

Brazil in the Seventies – when Sonia Braga wore glittery socks and high heels

Dancing Days

If you remember the 70s, you were not really there, right? What about a little revival of those crazy, sparkly years?

Brazil began the decade with the iron years of torture and dictatorship, and finished it with a draft of the democracy that would consolidate in the eighties. So, this period reflects the tension caused by censorship and the relief felt by the artist community when censors began to relax.

In the 70s:

  • Sonia Braga (actress of international fame) wore glittery socks, high heels and nylon boxing pants in the dance floor in Dancing Days soap opera.

  • Counterculture bands Mutantes and Secos e Molhados wore the most outrageous stage outfits. In this video, a rare early Secos e Molhados:


  • Samba goddess Clara Nunes ruled (here performing in a Japanese TV show)



Remember any of these? Vague memory?


Rosi di Primo, the girl all Brazilian men desired in the 70s...
Rosi di Primo, the girl all Brazilian men desired in the 70s…

…and Pedro Aguinaga, the girls’ favorite – also known as “Brazil’s most handsome man”

And these were these were the national blockbusters:

So, what are your 70s memories?

Tico-tico no fubá marathon

Tico-tico no fubá (literally, a very typical sparrow in cornmeal), chorinho composed by Zequinha de Abreu in 1917, is a virtuoso tour de force, included in the repertoire of fearless musicians that want to prove their talent and their speed.

You will find here:

  • the unforgettable version by the Youth Orchestra of Bahia
  • Duo Siqueira Lima, a Brazilian and an Uruguayan sharing one guitar in a fun – and maybe slightly romantic – way, at the Brazilian Music Institute, in Florida, US.
  • by amazing performer Ney Matogrosso
  • by a very young Paco de Lucia
  • by Ethel Smith, in an organ, in 1944 Bathing Beauty movie
  • and the essential version, by Carmem Miranda, sang in 1947 “Copacabana” movie (the film’s poster was found by the Spanish website Carteles Mix).



You can see many other versions at WFMU Beware of the Blogs.

Goddesses gone wild: movie divas in Brazil

Jayne Mansfield with jockeys in 1957/ UCLA Library


Lana Turner fell for a Brazilian pilot that she met in Belém, in the Amazon. Marlene Dietrich had to pretend fainting so her bodyguards would rescue her from the adoring crowd in front of the legendary Copacabana Palace hotel, in Rio. Jayne Mansfield got drunk during the Carnival of 1959 and exposed her superlative bosom during a party. Then, in the Quitandinha cassino of Petrópolis, she sniffed lança-perfumes, a classic Carnival drug, and got really wild. Ava Gardner got mad due to fans harassment and said Brazil was a “country of savages”. Rita Hayworth wore a traditional baiana outfit for a ball at the Municipal Theater, also in Rio. Brigitte Bardot fell in love for the beach of Búzios, in the state of Rio, where he spent several months, living incognito among fisherman, in 1964.

These anecdotes are presented in “As Divas no Brazil“, a book self-published by Evânio Alves, a hairdresser from Rio obsessed with these glamorous ladies. He spent eight years researching  stories about the stars’  Brazilian experiences.

See below collections of photos of Brigitte and Marlene in the country:



The biggest bank robbery, now on screen

220px-Assalto_ao_Banco_CentralThe biggest bank robbery ever promoted in the country happened in 2005, when 164 million reais (80 million dollars) were stolen from the Central Bank safe in the city of Fortaleza. Some members of the gang that built a 78 meter (256 feet) tunnel to reach the safe were caught – but they never confessed. Now the story is (freely) portraied in “Assalto ao Banco Central”, a very tense film by Marcos Paulo, a successful soap opera director at TV Globo. The huge cast includes Milhem Cortaz, Eriberto Leão, Lima Duarte, Giulia Gam, Gero Camilo, Cassio Gabus Mendes, Tonico Pereira, Milton Gonçalves and Antonio Abujamra. The film will be released in Brazil on July 22, but you can check here the screen trailer: