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The House of Sand

4.5 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Filmed entirely on the magnificent, sandy coast of northern Brazil, Áurea's saga begins in 1910, in Maranhão, where her fanatical husband has relocated his family to start a farm. Desperate and pregnant, Áurea (Fernanda Torres) longs to return to the city, but cannot traverse the dunes with her aging mother, Maria (Fernanda Montenegro) in tow. When calamity strikes, the two women find themselves stranded. Eventually, they settle among the shifting sands and Áurea finds peace. But her passionate daughter, Maria, longs to explore the world beyond the dunes. This profound portrait of passing generations has established Andrucha Waddington as one of the most exciting directors in Brazil today.

The landscape looks like the surface of the moon. Set in Brazil's Maranhão desert, House of Sand follows three generations of women, from 1910 to 1969, as they eke out a living from this hostile environment. Oafish Vasco (director Ruy Guerra) brings pregnant wife Áurea (Fernanda Torres) and her mother, Dona Maria (Fernanda Montenegro, Central Station), from the city to make a new start. Shortly after they arrive, fate takes him out of the picture. Mother and daughter muddle through with the help of slave descendents. Wary at first, Massu (Seu Jorge, City of God) takes a particular shine to the duo. The story then skips ahead to 1919, when an escape route materializes. There will be two more shifts in time. By 1942, Áurea's daughter, Maria (Torres), has grown into impetuous womanhood, while Áurea (Montenegro) and Massu (Luiz Melodia) have settled into middle age. In the final section, set during the year of the first lunar landing, Áurea (Montenegro) is around the same age as her mother at the start of the film. With the exception of Camilla Facundes as nine-year-old Maria, Torres and her real-life mother assume every female role. What does it all mean? Andrucha Waddington (Me You Them) doesn't burden his enigmatic epic with a singular message, but those who appreciate dust-swept dramas like Woman in the Dunes and Walkabout aren't likely to hold it against him. The point seems to be that the human--especially the female--capacity for survival knows no bounds. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Stills from House of Sand (click for larger image)

Special Features

  • "The Making of The House of Sand"

Product Details

  • Actors: Fernanda Montenegro, Ruy Guerra, Fernanda Torres, Seu Jorge, Enrique Diaz
  • Directors: Andrucha Waddington
  • Producers: Andrucha Waddington, Pedro Buarque de Hollanda, Pedro Guimarães, Leonardo Monteiro de Barros
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 12, 2006
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000J3OTOG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,998 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 17, 2006
Format: DVD
CASA DE AREIA ('HOUSE OF SAND) is a masterpiece of filmmaking from Brazil. Written by Elena Soarez and Luis Carlos Barreto the story seems more a magical metaphor than a tale of real life - until the film concludes and the immediacy and universality of the messages haunt the viewer's mind for hours. It is a film directed by Andrucha Waddington with a cast of superb actors but the focus of the film, the films central character, is the bleak isolation of the sweeping desert of Northern Brazil.

The film opens in 1910 with a caravan of wind swept characters appearing in the distance of the dunes of the desert, a group of wayfarers apparently escaping the poverty of the bog city to find a home of their own, land that can be called something that belongs to them. They are led by Vasco de Sá (Ruy Guerra) and his wife Áurea (Fernanda Torres) and her mother Dona Maria (Fernanda Montenegro), both of whom plead with Vasco to let them return to the poverty of the city instead of being forced to attempt to exist in the sands of the windy desert. Vasco is determined, builds a house, forces the women to live there and the others to pitch tents to exist. Áurea becomes pregnant, Vasco is confronted by the real owners of the land led by Massu (Seu Jorge), and must trade his possessions to remain in his 'home', a home which crashes around him leaving Vasco dead and Áurea and Dona Maria to fend for themselves. The others desert the two women and the women find their only help in Massu.

Time passes slowly (to 1919) and the changing sands begin to bury the house. Áurea, now a mother of a daughter Maria (Camilla Facundes), finds a telescope and sets out to see if she can find its owner and a way out of the desert.
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1 Comment 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Epic is often something we attribute to lengthy films or ones that have a cast of nearly a hundred or more. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962) quickly comes to mind. It had an all-star cast and a run time of over 220 minutes. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965) is another, clocking in at just over 190 minutes. Then there's the more modern "epics" such as GLADIATOR (2000) that comes in at 171 minutes.

But run times are only a portion of what makes an epic an epic. THE HOUSE OF SAND runs well under two hours (115 minutes), but spans multiple generations, covering over 60 years. And although The House of Sand teeters on the verge epic-ness, it misses the mark ...but only by a hair.

Visually breathtaking, The House of Sand focuses on the lives of three generations of women. The first generation is forced into a little known desert area of Brazil where a man named Vasco (Ruy Guerra) leads a ragtag group of settlers on a quest for land to call their own. With him comes his wife Aurea (Fernanda Torres), a young woman of an arranged marriage. Also with him is Aurea's mother, Maria (Fernanda Montenegro). The group of settlers quickly learn the inhospitable nature of the area and all of them flee, except for Vasco, Aurea, and Maria. But Vasco soon dies in an accident, leaving the mother/daughter team to fend for themselves. Luckily, there's a group of former slaves eking out an existence nearby. Massu (Seu Jorge) is one of these tough ex-slaves, and he takes a liking to Aurea (as do several other men who live or happen upon this sandy area).

As time passes, Maria falls in love with the dunes and the simplicity of the area. But Aurea begs to leave. She wants for the excitement of a city with people her own age.
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Format: DVD
I have never reviewed a movie before and won't really now except to suggest that this film, intentionally or otherwise is a a marvelous, deeply spiritual film. It's very aridity and sparseness; its tearing asceticism in the cell that is the beautiful, silent dunes is a cry of conscious creation looking for fulfillment and except for love, finding only sand.

I cannot speak for the writers, and perhaps this review is more about me, but this searing movie is a deep treatise on vanity; the vanity of Ecclesiastes; inching painfully, almost lifelessly along in time yet jolting into new lives, new eras, new vanities,this film speaks its deep, dare I say religious truth that the material, the ephemeral, yesterday's "new" passion, cannot even begin to fill the living soul.

Escape. Fly from our existential feet of clay to the moon and still, you will find there to your surprise, that all around you is the same dust and sand.

The sole hint of exception to this reality that so mocks our new cars and modern gross conceits, our scientisms and inane philosophies of the ephemeral and merely material, is the love.

Love appears, noticeably in the stories of those wanderings in the deserts real and metaphorical, partial and distracted love, normal human love, though it be. Practical and temporal or eroticly passive and disconnected from our internal law, its appearance howsoever fractured and incomplete nevertheless hints at what is not just sand, not just vanity, not just dead.

Only the love, fractured and disjointed for these people wandering aimlessly in the desert is not sand, and life in the end must be about love, or sand.
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