Zé is a very poor man from the Brazilian countryside. His most prized possession is his donkey. When his donkey falls terminally ill, Zé makes a promise to Saint Bárbara: If his donkey recovers, he will carry a cross – like Jesus – all the way from his city to Saint Bárbara’s church.
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Bunuel would have liked it: a peasant, in order to thank the saint for saving his prize donkey, promises to carry large wooden cross the seven leagues to said saint's church. But the priest calls him heretic, won't let him in. The press gets wind, paints him "New Christ," a crowd gathers. All this chaos is nimbly handled. It only falters at the end, settling for facile symbolism instead of expected revolt.
Feels like a split between Italian Neorealism (with the on location shooting/non actors/dubbing) and Classical Hollywood (melodrama/music/climactic drama).
The story is really genuine and heartfelt though at times the rhythm is a bit awkward or unsure of itself. The capoeira scene is one of my favourites.
As a side note, I've been to the pelourinho in Salvador...
86/100 - Excellent.
A stunning critique of organized religion, suffused though with religious iconography mostly evident in the church's stairs which function metonymically as the hierarchy of 'sacred' and 'profane'. Duarte delivers a masterpiece which, like Buñuel, is both irreverent and devout. Of added value is the critique of carnivorous media, ideology, monetary interests and crowd psychology. A major film of Latin American Cinema!
Un pauvre paysan fait le voeu pieux de porter la Croix du Christ jusqu'à l'Eglise de Sainte Barbara, distante d'une trentaine de kilomètres et de donner ses terres aux pauvres, si son âne, gravement malade, guérit. Une Palme d'Or un peu surestimée...