The most legendary and unseen silent film in Brazilian history evokes the theme of three shipwrecked people, two women and a man adrift in a small boat on the open sea. Peixoto’s technique was influenced by the legacy of French avant-garde films.
The theme of Limite is stated in its title – the limits faced by man in the struggle for existence. The narrative concerns three shipwrecked people, two women and a man adrift in a small boat on the open sea. In a series of flashbacks, they reveal their stories.
With its avant-garde techniques and narrative approach, the somber majesty of its tragic theme, and its presentation at a time when talkies were all the rage, Limite was far from being a successful commercial venture. The film disappeared from public view, but word of its qualities spread in experimental film circles, both in Brazil and Europe, where it developed a legendary reputation.
The technique Peixoto used to develop the narrative is highly experimental, requiring the kind of concentration one brings to a reading of Joyce or Faulkner. Except for three dialogue titles closely spaced together, there are no intertitles in the two-hour silent film. Continually, Peixoto focuses on huge close-ups of objects and faces, includes wide shots of landscapes and the sea, and utilizes throughout unusual compositions and camera movements. His approach is often abstract and surrealistic but it also has clear ties to other Brazilian silent films, with emphasis on regional production and natural backgrounds. Brutus Pedreira, who played the role of a pianist, prepared a musical score for the silent film using 78rpm. recordings. —International Film Festival Rotterdam
Mário Rodrigues Breves Peixoto (1908 — 1992) was mainly known for his first and only film Limite, a silent experimental movie filmed in 1930 and first exhibited in 1931. Peixoto wrote, directed and took up a minor role in the film. Its musical score include Eric Satie, Claude Debussy, Alexander Borodin, Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Prokofiev and César Franck.
The single-handedly achievement of a member of the well-to-do élite of 1920s Brazil, Limite became over the years almost a myth – its only copy being almost lost during the 1950s, were it not to be restored thanks to the personal efforts of two 1970s critics – and the object of various legends, many of them put into circulation by Peixoto himself. One such legend referred to a bogus complimentary article about the film (“A film from South America”), that had supposedly been written by Sergei Eisenstein and published, in English translation, in the trendy Londoner magazine Tatler. Only after Peixoto admmited… read more
Despite this film being 80 years old, it felt very present, and I felt present as well...
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