In the Nineteenth Century, the cynical and pragmatic British agent William Walker arrives in Queimada, a Portuguese colony in the Antilles, to promote a revolution and benefits the sugar trade with England. He finds in the water and luggage carrier José Dolores the necessary potential to be the leader of the slave revolt, and the Portuguese troops are expelled from the island; then the provisional government of President Teddy Sanchez assumes the power with the support of the British government. Ten years later, William is hired by the Royal Company that is exploring the sugar cane plantations and the Queimada government to chase José Dolores, who is disturbing the economical interests of England in sugar cane with his army of rebels. –IMDB
The controversial yet brilliant Italian-born director Gillo Pontecorvo is perhaps best known for authoring The Battle of Algiers (1966). This ingenious film — with its use of docudrama techniques and stark black-and-white photography to capture the French-Algerian conflict — instantly became the toast of the Venice Film Festival and a seminal classic. A militant leftist and lifelong member of the Communist Party, Pontecorvo stirred up controversy and indignation for years with his extremist sociopolitical views. Cinematically, the extreme infrequency with which Pontecorvo crafted motion pictures (with years of inactivity between projects) renders him one of the least prolific international directors of five-star caliber in modern history, placing him in the same camp as Terrence Malick.
Born in Pisa, Italy, on November 19, 1919, to a Jewish family (with nine brothers and sisters and an industrialist father), young Gillo cut against the grain of familial tradition; the rest of… read more
It ambitiously attempts to be a sophisticated epic, but over-reaches. Instead it resembles a peculiar kind of plot-heavy exploitation. The eccentricities of the film, however, are it's greatest delights. From Brando's painfully mismatched hair/beard combo to the extensive dialogue replacement, Burn! has plenty B-quality charm. But underneath is a story with heart that shines up through the cracks.
Pontecorvo's epic is interesting, but difficult to really connect with. Lavish color cinematography makes for some arresting visuals, set to a superb rousing score by Morricone - but the themes are laid on thick. Brando plays a fascinating character, but I don't think I'd rate this among his best performances, as many others (including Brando himself) have. Worth watching, but not completely satisfying as a whole.
A bold example of the self-hating vanillain genre, Burn! ain't the heart-stopper Battle of Algiers was, but it might ultimately stick in my head more; credit Brando's pure, white-hot power. Clearly he was part gay, as his desire for that hunk José Dolores (Evaristo Márquez) is 100% normal & natural. Burn! passionately censures colonialism, but all anybody'll remember is those eyes & the way he strokes a horse's head.