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.
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.