Sunday, October 25, 2015

Orphans of Eldorado (orig. Órfãos do Eldorado) [2015]

MPAA (UR would be R)  Fr. Dennis (4+ Stars)

IMDb listing listing*

AdoroCinema (F. Russo) review* (A. Garrett) review*
Papo de Cinema (E. Fernandes) review*
Take (A.C. Nicholas) review*

Orphans of Eldorado (orig. Órfãos do Eldorado) [2015] [IMDb] [AC]* (directed and cowritten by Guilherme Coelho [IMDb] [AC]* along with Marcelo Gomes [IMDb] [AC]* and Hilton Lacerda [IMDb] [AC]* inspired by the celebrated novel Orphans of Eldorado [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] (orig. Órfãos do Eldorado [GR]*[WCat]* [Amzn]*) by Milton Hatoum [en.wikip] [pt.wikip]*[GR]*[WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb] [AC]*) is a quite steamy Brazilian romance / erotic thriller set in the Amazon that played recently at the 2015 (51st Annual) Chicago International Film Festival.

Thirty-something "prodigal son" Arminto Cordovil (played by Daniel de Oliveira [IMDb] [AC]*) returns after many years back to the bustling mid-sized riverside town on the banks of the Amazon where he was born.  His father (played by Henrique da Paz [IMDb] [AC]*) had made his fortune in the ship building business.  But that was pedestrian for Arminto, so he ditched that way of life fifteen years back for a more "bohemian" one, playing guitar at small river-side barzinhos (literally "little bars", I DO LOVE PORTUGUESE DIMINUTIVES ;-) up and down the river.   But, alas, at some point, he started to realize that this was not exactly going anywhere.

So he was returning, not penniless, but also not exactly repentant either.  He appeared to be just "turning a page" in his life, without really knowing (or particularly caring) what that next page was going to look like.

When he returns to his childhood home, a rather (but not super)impressive fenced-in mansion (in Brazil, where there are rich people there are _always_ fences ...) he's greeted at the door by his father's maid, late-ish 40-something, Florita (played by Dira Paes [IMDb] [AC]*).  She had been writing Arminto to come home, as his father, an old man by now, was not doing well.  But it IMMEDIATELY becomes clear that things are, well, "complicated."  Florita, perhaps 8, 10, 12 years older than Arminto, had been the one who gave Arminto his first sexual experiences.  YET, one gets the sense that a good part of the reason why Arminto had packed-up his guitar, in part in anger, in part in disappointment, in part in disgust, was that Florita (at that time in her mid-perhaps late 20s) was / had become his father's lover after his mother died.  (Readers, I told / warned you that this was "a quite steamy erotic thriller / romance" ... ;-).  Indeed, Arminto shakes his head with again part anger / disappointment / disgust when it comes to him: "Ah, so you were writing me because 'the old man' is dying (and you need me now to keep your lifestyle)."

Well, Arminto, heads over to one of those river-side barzinhos to try to sort his head out, and runs-into a younger, 20-ish singer on stage, (played by Mariana Rios [IMDb] [AC]*), who even looks like a younger Florita, and is absolutely enamorado (smitten / enchanted / taken aback) by her.  The next several days become a drunken, sexual haze.

When he does make it home, he declares to a somewhat jealous Florita that he's found someone who (in contrast to her ...) will truly be his own. ... 'cept (and Florita here laughs ;-) ... after a three, four, five day (or simply extended) haze with the singer HE DOES NOT REMEMBER HER NAME ;-).  Again, Florita laughs, and tells him "Don't worry my menino (little one) I'll make inquiries."  A few days later, she informs him that she's found who she was a certain Dinaura, and, again, laughing, tells him that he'll never find her...

This sets up the rest of the story, Arminto, leaves everything (again) and spends the next 8 years, going-up and down the rivers of the Amazon, the Purus, the Negro, the Branco, searching in every dive that he could find this fabulous, fantastic, becoming more legendary, mythic by the drunken day ... Dinaura.  It leads him to a river town somewhere on / off the Purus called "Paraiso" where "all is light and bright" but is inhabited only "by the blind" (when he gets there, he comes to "understand" ... the little river town was inhabited by former rubber workers, who were blinded the rubbery compounds boiling off the latex they collected from the Amazon's rubber trees, as they processed them into transportable rubber bricks).

Does he find the fabulous Dinaura? ... I'm not going to say ;-) ... Go see the movie (I DO HOPE IT COMES BACK IN AT LEAST LIMITED RELEASE IN THE U.S. ;-) or at least read the book [GR] [WCat] [Amzn].

I found the admittedly R-rated story WONDERFUL / FASCINATING in good part because I KNOW SOMETHING OF THE AMAZON.  My religious Order, the Servants of Mary, has operated a Mission out in Acre, Brazil since the 1920s.  I visited it three times [1] [2] [3] [4].  I even helped translate a book "The Amazonia That We Do Not Know" originally by Brazilian author Milton Claro about the people of the Amazon and their stories:

The Dinaura character is inspired by the Legend of Iara, basically a Siren of the Amazon.

Then TOWNS like the PARAISO of the film/story above ACTUALLY EXIST in the Amazon.  Indeed, the Servites first came to Acre to help minister to a Leper Colony already existing there along the banks of the Rio Branco near the Brazilian / Peruvian border.

EVEN the story of the "blinded rubber workers" IS ALSO BASED ON TRUTH.  During World War II, after the Japanese took-over Malaysia and with it 90% of the world's rubber industry, the Brazilian army REALLY DID send thousands upon thousands of poor people from the downstream States of the Amazon (like Pará where this movie was filmed) up to Acre along the Purus and Branco Rivers, TO COLLECT LATEX from the NATURALLY OCCURRING RUBBER TREES OF ACRE.  And the latex from the rubber trees would be cooked to rubberize it and form it into more easily tranportable rubber bricks / balls.

The human rights activist Chico Mendes [en.wikip] [pt.wikip]* of Acre, Brazil WHO THE SERVITES KNEW VERY, VERY WELL (as we were the priests and religious in the area where he lived / organized) sought to organize these rubber tappers (seringueros) and lost his life in defense of them.

So THIS IS A PART OF THE WORLD THAT I DO KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT and can testify to.  The Amazon is one fascinating place.  And one can, in fact, appreciate why the Portuguese, a sea-faring people after all, would also have become so utterly enchanted by it.  Let me put it this way: Even in the U.S., the Louisiana Bayou has been the source of disproportionate amount of American stories and culture.  The Amazon basin is several hundred times larger than the Louisiana Bayou and is, again, chock filled with stories upon stories to tell.


* Foreign language webpages are most easily translated using Google's Chrome Browser. 

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1 comment:

  1. I live in Belém where most of the movie was made and I saw it yesterday and you are right: is a great job! Congrats!