Cordel Encantado, the 6 o’clock soap opera that ended last Friday, was a rare success in a country that is getting tired of old TV formulas. Approved by both critics and audience, it mixed fairy tale and traditional cordel literature, elements of European royalty with Brazilian folklore and History. Set at the Northeast outback (sertão), it was produced with film quality, good acting and direction. The love triangle involving Açucena, Jesuíno (the good guy) and Timóteo (the evil one) was not, of course, particularly innovative, but was pretty typical of 6 o’clock plots, less sexy and violent than novelas exhibited later in the evening.
Check here for the videoclip made to promote Cordel Encantado at the Emmy Awards:
And you can watch the last chapter in this website.
Have you seen this soap opera? Did you like it?
Also, if you are interested in Northeastern music, check Cordel Encantado’s soundtrack, interpreted by Gilberto Gil, Maria Gadú, Lenine, Chico Science & Nação Zumbi, Zé Ramalho and Alceu Valença, among many, many others. Pretty cool team, indeed.
“O Romance do Pavão Misterioso” (The Romance of the Misterious Peacock), published in 1920, is one of the most famous stories of literatura de cordel – those booklets produced in a domestic press, illustrated with rustic woodcuts and sold in street markets, hanging from clothes-lines (thus the name, cordel). It is also one of the very few cordel stories that made their way into mass culture.
Attributed to José Camelo de Melo Rezende, it tells the story of a Turkish man, Evangelista (“the son of a capitalist”, says the rimed story), who creates a peacock-shaped flying machine to seduce and kidnap Countess Creuza, the imprisoned daughter of a Greek nobleman. You can read the whole story online (in Portuguese).
In this lovely 1975 short video, extracted from the documentary “Nordeste: Cordel, Repente e Canção“, a cordel salesman recites parts of Romance do Pavão Misterioso.
Brazilian TV, namely Rede Globo network, produced some high-quality historic series. These ones definitely deserve a visit:
1 – Casa das Sete Mulheres – Probably the best historic series ever produced in the country. Its about the Revolução Farroupilha, also known as Guerra dos Farrapos, a 10-year revolution that opposed the landowners of the Southern state of Rio Grande do Sul and the federal government. It also depicts the Brazilian phase of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian revolutionary that sided with the gaúchos and then went back to Europe, where he fought to unify his country.
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).
I don’t remember a day of my life I didn’t have a cup of coffee mixed with milk at wake up time. It is absolutely normal for a Brazilian child to have it for breakfast as soon as he/she is out of the high chair. But children generally don’t drink cafézinho, the coffee shot that may follow a meal or that is offered to guests – this is rather an adult habit. This reminds me of the way French parents deal with wine. It is offered to kids with moderation, maybe diluted in water, without fuss. And the French, by the way, also offer their children a bowl of café au lait in the morning.
Living in the US, I realized that the child-coffee connection is not universally accepted. More than once I met people who consider hideous offering caffeine to somebody underage.
Check this old Brazilian ads that make a huge effort to seduce very young viewers. Is this wrong, in your opinion?
There is something absolutely delicious about bad quality publicity. These TV ads, old or new, are as seducing as a package of junk snacks.
First, a big 70s classic produced to promote shampoo Colorama. It shows a beauty with ugly voice: “Do you remember my voice? It is still the same. But my hair, what a difference!” In the end, with beautiful voice, she says: “when the hair is beautiful, everything is beautiful in a woman”.
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:
And these were these were the national blockbusters:
So, what are your 70s memories?
You cannot miss these two videos. The first is the stickiest commercial aired in a long time on Brazilian TV. A voice in off asks you if you want a car with horse power…or pony power.
You can also see a version with English subtitles.
The second video shows Australian TV interviewing Curt Trennepohl, new Ibama’s president, about controversial dam Belo Monte, in the Amazon. Ibama is the national Environmental agency, but Trennepohl says his job is not to care for the environment, but to “minimize the impacts”, because the country really needs more energy. His two previous predecessor gave up the job exactly because they felt uneasy about approving Belo Monte’s project. The same happened to former Environment minister and presidential candidate Marina Silva. The huge Belo Monte dam complex, on Xingu river, in the state of Pará, meant to have the third biggest generation capacity – after Three Gorges, in China, and Itaipu, in Brazil – will flood a large forest area and might compromise the life of several indigenous groups. It’s economic viability and efficiency are also questioned. Trennepohl gave the environmental license for its construction in early June.
And, by the way, check this great Washington Post story about the multiple problems that the Chinese are facing thanks to the Three Gorges dam. Read and learn, Trennepohl.
Sex, feminine hygiene and swearing are, sometimes, beyond the reach of Brazilian audiences. These five (mostly) funny Brazilian TV ads were censored on the basis that they were indecent. You are the judge.
The older of the series. Actress Marilia Pera praises a new feminine pad in a pretty modern, metalinguistic commercial, shot in 1974. In this spot, she is “caught” during the preparations of a conventional commercial. The censors didn’t allow the product’s close up.