Eye For Film >> Movies >> Behind The Sun (2001) Film Review
Behind The Sun
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
Like a feather drifting on the wind, this new film from Walter Salles has a delicacy of motion that belongs to art. Its simplicity is its beauty.
Brazil, 1910. Stream Of Souls, otherwise referred to as "the middle of nowhere", is where the Breves family farm cane, which they cut and process into blocks of raw sugar. That is their life. "We are like oxen," The Kid says. "We go round and round and never go anywhere."
The Kid's other name is Paco. This was given to him by the circus man, who, with Clara, the fire eater, came to their village and put on a show. The Kid thinks of Clara as a mermaid, from the only book he has ever known.
This is not a story of how Clara opens the eyes of young Paco to the wonders of a wider world. It is about vendetta.
For years there has been a feud over land with the neighbouring family. Paco's elder brother was murdered by them. His bloody shirt blows dry on the line. When the stains turn yellow, 20-year-old Tonio must take his gun and kill the man who killed his brother. Their father accepts the tradition. All he understands is working the cane press and protecting his family's honour. Their mother prays that some day it will end.
Paco worries about Tonio and has frightening dreams. Clara is like an angel when she walks on stilts, beating her drum. Tonio has never seen such loveliness, but he shouldn't be thinking of this, he should be preparing for the assassin.
The bare interiors and golden dust in the blazing heat outside are still lives in this visually captivating movie. The drama that unfolds has a terrifying inevitability, like the ritual of human sacrifice. Paco is determined to change things. He is young, he sees clearly.
On one level, this is a simple fable. On another, it touches profound emotions.Reviewed on: 20 Jan 2002