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Black God White Devil - (Mr Bongo Films)

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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(Dec 01, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Wanted for killing his boss, Manuel (Geraldo del Rey) flees with his wife Rosa (Yona Magalhaes) to the sertao, the barren landscape of Northern Brazil. Thrust into a primordial violent region, Manuel and Rosa come under the influence and control of a series of frightening figures. Sebastiao (Lidio Silva), a fanatic preacher who promises utopia but practices massacre and a band of bandits called Cangaceiros led by Corisco (Othon Bastos). Shuttled between the 'Black God' and 'White Devil', Manuel and Rosa's struggle for survival escalates when Church authorities hire a hitman named Antonio das Mortes (Mauricio do Valle) to hunt down every combatant in the region.

'An idea in the head and a camera in the hand' was Glauber Rocha's motto, and every shot in this film displays innovation of thought and control over form. In addition to writing and directing the film, Rocha wrote the folk songs scored by Heitor Villa-Lobos and Sergio Ricardo. Black God, White Devil became the banner film of Brazil's Cinema Novo movement. Its artistic achievement, acknowledged by Luis Buñuel and Bernardo Bertolucci, has made it a seminal classic of film history.


The fusion of European and Afro-Brazilian elements -- dialogue, exquisite black-and-white images, and music by Villa-Lobos -- is startlingly original and poetical in conveying the hope and despair of the oppressed --Chicago Reader

The most beautiful thing I have seen in more than a decade, filled with savage poetry --Luis Buñuel

Black God White Devil has been voted the greatest Brazilian film of all time...It is visionary cinema at its rawest --Uncut Magazine

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Geraldo Del Ray
  • Directors: Glauber Rocha
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Portuguese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Mr Bongo Films
  • DVD Release Date: December 1, 2008
  • Run Time: 125 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001L2S1WU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,602 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Black God White Devil - (Mr Bongo Films)" on IMDb

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Black God, White Devil shows us life in Brazil isn't always easy but one could change their fate. Poverty and dry conditions could be enough to make some give up their aspirations, while others clung to hope - that a miracle would change everything. Manuel is full of hope, even if his wife Rosa isn't, believing that life will get better. In a heated dispute with his boss, Manual ends up killing him, which forces him and his wife to have to flee. Manual looks at this as a sign by God that things will change and isn't discouraged.

Manual ends up joining St. Sebastian, who is a charismatic preacher with a throng that follows him wherever he goes. In a way, one could say St. Sebastian is like a cult leader because he manipulates others and controls his followers. St. Sebastian gives sermons filled with disdain of the rich and offers hope to the poor but he has a militant side in which he doesn't mind using force in killing others. Manual becomes mesmerized by St. Sebastian and turns into his loyal disciple.

The government as well as the Catholic Church are not in favor of St. Sebastian and hire Antonio das Mortes to kill him. When the smoke clears, Manual and Rosa end up joining a revolutionary who acts more like a bandit, which makes both of them feeling they are not on the right path again.

Glauber Rocha directed this renowned Brazilian film in 1964. I like how there are songs periodically that narrate and explain what is going on as it gives the film a nice touch. I got the sense that the songs gave the story a feeling that the events are legends or will be one day.
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Format: DVD
Original title in Portuguese is `Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol'; which translates as, "God and the Devil in the Land of Sun". Seen as the leader in Cinema Novo, director Glauber Rocha was just 25 when he made this in 1964. It uses for its message the plight of Manoel - who is a poor ranch hand. They are literally `dirt poor' so in an attempt for change he goes to market to sell his stock. Once there his boss tries to steal his earnings from him by abuse of his authority. Manoel flies into a rage, after reasoning wont work, and he kills his boss.

Now a wanted man Manoel flees with his wife Rosa. He has heard of a living saint in the shape of Sebastião (Lidio Silva), who advocates a lot of bunkum, but also the use of violence. As most of his venom is directed towards the ruling classes, he gets a fair amount of followers from the local peasantry. However, he is far from being benevolent and blood begets blood.

The story moves along with a selection of bandits, corrupt clergy, corrupt government and mercenaries. The madness is almost comedic in places. But this was all seen as an indictment on the current societal condition in Brazil. It reminded me of `El Topo' in places and is said to have been a great influence on many in the industry including Bernardo Bertolucci and drawing praise from the great Luis Buñuel. It is violent but not a gore fest and it is a challenging watch, Buñuel described it as `savage poetry' and I can not put it better myself. But at two hours it may be a tad long for some.

This is a presentation from Mr Bongo films and the print is not a remastered one, so the picture is not all it could be in places. Also this was made in the day when everything was dubbed, so there is little depth to the soundscape, and it is in monochrome but despite all of the above, this is still a phenomenal cinematic feast. This is one for all true cinema fans.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Since I like to watch films "outside the box" of what Hollywood offers, I search high and low for interesting films I never had the opportunity to see in a theater. I found Black God, White Devil after a recommendation given me upon my purchase of another film of the Brazilian Cinema Novo genre.
The story takes place in the semi-feudal outback of Brazil's northeast, where the landowner's whim supersedes the law and where life for the peasant or for the gaucho was a grim affair. Manuel is a cowhand full of hope for the future who kills his boss with a machete when his hopes are rudely shattered by the boss's caprice. He is forced to flee with his wife and embarks on a journey to a better life he never finds. What he does find is a series of situations that would drive most people mad with despair. The black god of the title is the self-proclaimed mystic St. Sebastian who is a sort of pied piper for the poor and dispossessed. Manuel himself later becomes the white devil after the bandit Corisco tags him with Satan as his nom de guerre.
Modern audiences used to fast-paced and gratuitous violence may be bored with the slow pace of the movie and the violence which is more suggested than graphic. The black and white film accentuates the bleakness of the landscape and the hopeless position of the protagonist. The patient viewer will be rewarded.
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