Macunaima | Chicago Reader

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100 minutes

Dark comedy
This 1969 Brazilian film by Joachim Pedro de Andrade is at once poetic and grotesque, using cannibalism as a metaphor for the exploitation of Brazilians by Brazilians and international capitalism under the military dictatorship that started in 1964. Beginning with the birth of Macunaima (played as a "baby" by an adult comic actor) on the floor of a mud hut and following him as he journeys to the city, the film is a wild mix of incongruities and transformations--characters turn from black to white, a tycoon uses his swimming pool as a kind of cooking pot for human corpses--suggesting a complex commentary on Brazilian racism, the contradictions of its cities, and the untamed wildness of its rural regions and peoples. The consistently hysterical pitch can be both entertaining and wearying, and it tends to blunt the film's social meanings. In Portuguese with subtitles.

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