On Politics and Identity in Latin American Cinema In regards to the films of Peru, Brazil, Argentina, and Cuba

Essay by ColumbiaworkerUniversity, Bachelor's April 2005

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Latin American films often take us by surprise for their candid criticism of the state of their nations and its politics. In the States, we rarely attack contemporary problems that our nation is faced with, generally creating fictional premises or using historical events that have already been subjected to pubic condemnation. The recent memories of dramatic political upheaval and huge gaps in the welfare of the people in countries such as Brazil, Argentina, and Cuba create feeling of frustration that is often reflected in their films.

Films such as Terra em Trance (Brazil), The Official Story, Camilla (Argentina), Memories of Underdevelopment (Cuba), and The Green Wall (Peru) are characterized by the filmmaker's approach to dealing with the politics and the division between the 'civilized' and 'underdeveloped' peoples.

A common theme throughout the cinema of these nations is the apathy of the population. For some part, these political films are used as a 'call to action' to the normally passive audience.

In Glauber Rocha's Terra em Trance the assessment of Brazil's population as mindless followers is clear. During a political rally towards the finale of the film, the crowd stares vacantly ahead, silent as the one character that is aware strides among them chastising them for their ignorance. Throughout the picture he encounters those who are content with the current situation and those who blindly follow the wind of change.

The revolutionary crowd believes in ideals and chants and the stagnant leadership strides about believing he has a mandate from god to lead. There is an interesting double edge to Rocha's sword; insofar that neither party is ever spared of his judgment (Rich). No one in the film ever makes a transition to truly fight for the right cause, as the right cause is never revealed.

Argentina's The Official...