Guerra de Canudos (The Battle of Canudos) (1997)
Director: Sergio Rezende.
Starring: José Wilker (Antônio Conselheiro), Cláudia Abreu (Luíza), Paulo Betti (Zé Lucena), Marieta Severo (Penha), Tuca Andrada(Arimatéia), Camilo Beviláqua (Solano), Roberto Bomtempo (Pedro), José de Abreu (General Artur Oscar), Eliezer de Almeida (Beatinho), Jurandir de Oliveira (Firmino), Lamartine Ferreira (Quirino), Murilo Grossi (Antonio), Dandara Guerra (Teresa), José Marinho (Barão de Cocobodó), Selton Mello (Tenente Luís), Elias Mendonça (João Abade), Ernani Moraes (Antonio Vila-Nova), Jorge Neves (Toinho), Tonico Pereira (Coronel Moreira César), Inaldo Santana (Beato), Dody Só (Pajeú), Denise Weinberg (Margot).
war of Canudos in the late 1890's that was Brazil’s bloodiest civil war
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
"Around 1860, Antonio Vicente Mendes Maciel began his pilgrimage through the Brazilian northeast. For 3 decades, he preached God's word, built churches and reformed cemeteries. In spite of the opposition by the church and the elite he gained enormous prominence among the country folk. In 1889, when Brazil was proclaimed a republic Antônio Conselheiro rebelled against the idea."
Hinterland of Bahia -- 1893. A man named Zé Lucena is hunting with his son, Toinho, but he's not having much luck. He returns home with only one small bird. The family is disappointed with the meager amount of food. Mother says that they are going to have to sell their cows.
The father goes to sell his cows but is offered only 100,000 reis. Dad says: "It's not enough." The fellow stands firm. Dad says that the man only gave him 30,000 reis. The buyer says that he will give him the other 70,000 reis when he gets the cows.
A man is heard calling out to the citizens of Bom Conselho. The man, Pedro, is trying to get customers who want to have their photo taken. Mother and her two daughters are interested in having their photo taken. The cost is 20,000 reis and dad says: "That's a lot of money." So Pedro says he will sell the photo for 15,000 reis. Then he comes down to 13,000 reis and then 10,000 reis. So dad gives the photographer the money and his two daughters have their photo taken.
Three soldiers and a citizen arrive at the home of Zé Lucena saying that he is taking two of their cows. He explains that it is income tax. "It's the republican law." If the family thinks this is an injustice, they can send a petition to the President of the Republic. Zé yells that this is stealing and he goes after the official. Two of the soldiers hold him back. Because Zé resisted, the official says now they will take all of his cattle. One of the soldiers hits Zé in the mid-section and down he goes.
One day the pilgrimage led by Antônio Conselheiro comes to Zé's home. His family wants to know who is this man with long hair and a very long beard. Zé says: "Good Jesus Conselheiro!" With him are his pilgrims. They all look extremely poor. Conselheiro asks if he and his pilgrims may have some water?
At night the apostle says that God spoke to him to tell him to spread God's word among the poor of the region. In return, Antônio and his followers "shall be full of grace in eternal life." A man leads the pilgrims in song. Zé takes part in the program. His eldest daughter Luiza says that the "saint" looks more like the devil.
Dad has decided to take their belongings and go with the saint. Luiza and Teresa don't want to leave their home, but they have to. Luiza says that she won't go and actually runs away from her family and the pilgrims.
The pilgrims arrive in a small village. The official that took Zé's cattle is there collecting taxes on the poorest of the poor. The tax man asks the saint to tell the people that they must pay their taxes. The saint asks: "Why pay someone who have given them nothing?" His pilgrims loudly agree with the saint. He goes on to say: "It's fair that Brazilians disobey the laws of the Republic. Who overthrew Dom Pedro denying him his divine right to rule over Brazil? It was the Anti-Christ Republic!" He says that the Republic means taxes and imprisonment. The citizens will be slaves working for the government. The saint then declares that justice will be done by God! "The Republic will be demolished!" One of the pilgrims, João Abade, removes the tax law notice from a wall. He then stomps on it.
The saint stops at an abandoned farm. He tells his followers that they will set up a settlement right here. He tells the people: "I now found our Belo Monte Empire!" He does warn them that persecution will follow the saint wherever he goes. "When the soldiers of the Anti-Christ arrive the waters of the rivers will be like milk to us, and blood to them!"
June 1893, Star of Spain. The saint buys a lot of supplies from a traveling merchant. He tells his aide Beato to ask the merchant to stay with them because they need the skills of this businessman. He now tells João Abade to organize a Catholic Guard for them. The saint says that the republican soldiers will come against them one day.
Zé says to his wife Penha that now they have a home and the bad times are over. He also tells Penha: "Luiza is dead to me."
Luiza arrives at a small village. She talks to a woman who is a prostitute. During their talk, the prostitute, named Rosa, asks Luiza if she likes men?
Rosa fixes up Luiza to look nice and gives her a nice dress. She then takes her to the owner of the place. The man is called Baron.
October 1896. The Empire of Belo Monte is now a huge settlement. A new church has been built and Zé helps with hauling up the church bell to its place in the belfry.
The landowners are very upset with the saint. They have very few farmhands left because most of them have left to follow "that fanatic". One farmers says that everyone's leaving for Canudos, the promised land! And what's going on in Juazeiro? The pilgrims purchased wood for the church's roof, but the merchant has yet to deliver it. So some of the fanatics are talking about going down and taking the wood by themselves. So the judge called in troops to deal with this Belo Monte.
The soldiers show up and the armed pilgrims attack them and drive them back.
The photographer Pedro comes into the bordello and says he is Pedro Martins, a journalist from Rio de Janeiro. His assistant says Pedro is a photographer in times of peace, but a journalist in times of war. Pedro says he has good news for the Baron. Conselheiro's monarchists defeated the republican troops in Uaua. The Baron shoots back that this is old news. The new news is that Major Febronio de Brito left for Canudos with 600 men. He adds: "By now, Conselheiro has already been arrested, or killed."
João Abade is in town and a large group of poor people tell him that they want to join up with the people at Belo Monte. Some of the people were once soldiers, but now they say they will only fight for Conselheiro. Another man says that they saw republican troops headed this way and they even have cannons with them.
Luiza goes into Pedro's room in the bordello telling him that Rosa says that it's been four days he's been here and this place is no hotel. He has to go. Pedro asks of news about the conflict. Luiza tells him that Febronio passed through town two days ago on his way back from Canudos.
Febronio and his 600 soldiers were defeated. A soldier at the bordello explains that the fanatics fought with scythes, clubs, rocks and a few shotguns. He says they couldn't stop these people because they constitute a multitude. He thinks they deliberately offered themselves as martyrs so the soldiers would soon run out of bullets and that's what happened. The soldiers had to retreat. The Baron gets up and says: but now will come Colonel Moreira Cesar to deal with them. Pedro asks: "The beheader?" Yes.
One of the customers is very talkative. His name is Arimateia. He likes to have sex with Luiza. He tells Luiza that he is tired of being a soldier and will not go back to Canudos. He says he is going to be a farmer. Now the fellow asks Luiza how long has she been here? Three years. The soldier now says he will marry Luiza and take her to his farm. She laughs.
A black man named Pajeú comes into the Baron's bedroom. He grabs the Baron's cane and pulls on the handle. The handle is part of a very long, narrow and sharp sword. He pushes the sword into the Baron as he sleeps.
The saint tells his people that the Colonel with 1,000 men are coming to destroy their homes. The Colonel likes to cut off the heads of his enemy and won't bury any of the enemy dead. He asks his people: "Is this a man or the devil?" He says it is the devil.
Pedro and his assistant wait in the square for the arrival of the Colonel. The Colonel looks around and asks where are the people of this town? Pedro responds that they were fearful there would be a battle here, so they left. He then asks the Colonel if he can accompany them? The Colonel tells him absolutely not. The long line of troops continues on their way to Canudos.
Luiza went with that soldier to work a farm. She sees a large group of soldiers headed toward Canudos. She calls out for her husband, Arimateia. She says to him: "I've never seen so many soldiers." Her husband answers: "This time, there'll be no mercy."
As the soldiers walk, a shot is heard and a man goes down. They kneel down and fire into the brush. After the volley, the Colonel rides on his horse to where the shot came from. He returns with a rifle, saying that the enemy ran away. He tells his men: "This is the enemy's gun. A gun for killing little birds!" The Colonel concludes from this that the fanatics are unarmed.
At night Cadet Luis da Gama, son of Senator Vicente Gama, comes to see the Colonel in his tent. The Colonel tells him that he is going to capture Conselheiro, put him in a cage and parade him throughout the hinterland and then throughout the capital. He says he can kill anyone he wants to. In the rebellion at Santa Catarina he killed over 100 rebels. In his excitement, the Colonel falls to the grounds. He seems to be having an epileptic fit. The Cadet doesn't know what to do, so he calls for Captain Rocha.
An army doctor examines the Colonel and tells him that if he had examined the Colonel before the beginning of this expedition, he would not have let him come. The Colonel just says that he will get to Canudos before he dies.
March 3, 1897. The Colonel sees Belo Monte ahead of them. He shouts that he knows that he is visibly ill, but he is going to take Canudos! He shouts that they will eat their lunch in Canudos! The men cheer this statement. Then he says they will take the town with only their bayonets. He orders his troops to head into Canudos. The soldiers do some firing but mostly it's bayonets against knives. The Colonel can't use his cannons on the town for fear of hitting his own men. But he does send in his cavalry.
Some of the soldiers stop to sit down and eat the food they find in the homes. This makes them an easy target for the fanatics. It's house to house fighting and the army is taking heavy casualties. The Colonel decides to get on his horse and ride into Canudos in order to encourage his men onward. He finds many of his soldiers running away and shouts for them to go back. Pajeú who killed the Baron now shoots the Colonel on his horse.
With the Colonel down, the command goes to a very old soldier with all white hair. He keeps asking, but what am I to command? We can't go forward and we can't go back. Finally he tells Cadet Luis to have the bugler blow retreat.
Zé comes to talk to the saint. The saint immediately declares Zé a soldier and tells him to go out and continue the fight. Zé comes back to his family. His son asks if they have defeated the Colonel and his men? No, some of them are still at Fazenda Velha. The people of the village come to pray and sing with the saint.
The Colonel is still alive, although badly bleeding and he demands that the old man resume the fight tomorrow. If any man refuses to flight, shoot him. The old man says the soldiers are exhausted. They have decided to retreat. The Colonel gets really angry and tries to convince them to go back to the fight. The old soldier finally tells the Colonel that they just came to him to tell him of their decision, not ask for his advice. The Colonel says he resigns from the army. He puts his head back on his pillow and the doctor declares the Colonel dead.
As the soldiers retreat, they are fired upon by soldiers on top of a high ridge. The new commander gets shot. The soldiers all run away. Cadet Luis comes over to check on the old man, but he is dead. One of his friends tells him the day is lost and they have to get out of here.
The fanatics get a lot of rifles and ammunition now following the rout of the soldiers. They go down to the dirt road and just pick the rifles and ammunition off the ground or off the bodies. Pajeú, who shot the Colonel, finds the man's abandoned body. The rebel takes out his machete and chops off the man's head. The beheader is the beheaded. Pajeú comes into the village saying that they took over 500 rifles.
A group of wandering soldiers attacks the home of Luiza. They break down the door and a soldier readies to shoot Arimateia. Cadet Luis arrives and puts a rifle to the head of the would-be murderer. Since the soldier is not obeying the order, the Cadet's friend puts a pistol to the soldier's head. The Cadet and his aide remain behind for some refreshments and something to drink. He tells Arimateia that they seriously underestimated Conselheiro's mob.
The Cadet is a bit of an idealist. He says the fanatics are not all crazy. He says: "It's the Republic's duty to rescue them from misery." The Republic, he says, is progress, well-being, happiness. He adds: "This failure will hit Rio like a bombshell." And, sure enough, the papers carried articles on "The Catastrophe".
Rio de Janeiro, Monday, March 8, 1897. A narrator says: "Rio was in a state of chaos. It seemed like the end of the world." People rioted smashing windows, beating up journalists and setting monarchist newspapers on fire. Ten soldiers even lynched a newspaper owner.
June 12, 1897. Pedro says that in Rio they think that Canudos is a monarchist stronghold, rather than a bunch of poor people seeking a better life. He and his aide say that Gen. Artur Oscar is taking over command. The General is a serious man, a winner. One thing for sure is that the General is a lot more friendly to journalists than the Colonel was. He wants the journalists to come along with the army. He tells Pedro his full plan and says they will have the enemy defeated by June 27.
Cadet Luis sees Luiza in the army encampment. She tells him that her husband joined the army and she is here with him. The Cadet replies: "Many women will go, even children. It's common in our army." The Cadet and Luiza walk over to see Arimateia.
The army is divided into two columns that will meet each other in Canudos. The women follow behind the men walking along the dirt path. Pajeú, stationed under the skin of a dead, dried out cow, watches one of the columns as it goes by. With the women Luiza talks to Margot about what does the army do after a battle with the people who lost? They try to kill as many of the men as possible and, only sometimes, they kill women and children.
The General and his troops pass an area with the heads of republican soldiers displayed on sticks. He even recognizes the skull of a friend, Tamarindo. Pedro wants to take a photo of the skulls, but the General says he forbids it.
Pajeú and his men are up on the ridge again waiting for the arrival of the soldiers. The General reaches the outskirts of the village. He starts giving his little pep-talk to his soldiers before they go into battle. A horseman gallops with the flag, but is shot before he reaches the General. The order is given to fix bayonets. Then comes the order to attack the fanatics on the ridge. The fanatics run before the soldiers come too close. The General says they "dislodged" the attackers. Zé is fighting alongside his son. He tells Toinho to be careful because these soldiers are better than the ones they met last time.
The General says tomorrow on the 27th they will enter Canudos.
June 27. The General orders the artillery to open up on the villagers. A big shout goes up for: "Long live the Republic!" At this uproar the fanatics open fire on the artillery soldiers and the officers with them. The General uses his binoculars to look around and he sees General Savaget and his soldiers firing on Canudos. He is angry, saying: "They'll enter Canudos before us." The General's problems are now compounded with the news that artillery is almost out of ammunition.
Luiza sees a boy just standing there in the open area near his dead mother. Luiza runs and grabs the boy and brings him to a safer place. Margot runs out and grabs a rifle and starts firing at the enemy. The shout goes up that the fanatics are trying to grab their supplies. Looking over in that direction, Luiza sees that one of the raiders is her brother Toinho on horseback. The General now wants a message sent to Gen. Savaget to come to their rescue.
The narrator pedro says: "The arrival of Gen. Savaget saved the 1st Column from disaster. If it wasn't for him, the campaign would have been irredeemably lost. More than 1,000 people were killed in combat yesterday."
The fanatic raiders say they got more than 400,000 enemy bullets and burned all the enemy's provisions. The saint, however, is not so pleased. He says the republican soldiers reached the gates of Belo Monte.
Zé now works as a sniper for the fanatics. When Pedro's aide comes out of their tent, Zé shoots him down. Arimateia tell Luiza: "This is the work of that Lucena. He's the terror of the skirmish. Evil bandit! But one day we'll get him!" It's now that Luiza says that man is no bandit. He is her father. Arimateia asks her why didn't she tell him earlier? She says because she wanted to see Conselheiro dead, but she doesn't want her family to die. She asks Arimateia to promise not to kill her father. Her husband says he can't promise her that for he does not even know what her father looks like.
Toinho tells his sister that he thinks he saw Luiza among the republican troops. He then quickly says that he can't be sure it was Luiza. Pajeú leads an attack on the artillery crew. In the fight both Pajeú and Toinho are killed. Toinho's family is crushed. Dad carves the mark of the cross on his chest. Meanwhile, Teresa has snuck behind enemy lines to get a chance to see Toinho. She finds the dead body of Toinho stacked on top of some other bodies. She cries.
July 13. The General is angry and asks when will the convoy arrive? The Major doesn't know and he tells the General that there is no more food for the healthy or the wounded troops.
Cadet Luis and Arimateia go out hunting for goat, but Luis winds up killing a man instead of a goat. They sit down and talk. The Cadet is just full of praise for Luiza. Arimateia tells the Cadet that Luiza used to be a whore. At night the Cadet keeps looking over at Luiza.
The next morning Luiza says she wants to return to Monte Santo. Arimateia asks her if this is because of the Cadet? She says it's for many reasons. He doesn't believe her and tells her so. She just walks away from him.
The convoy for the troops finally arrives. The fanatics open fire on them and most of the soldiers are killed or wounded. Perhaps because of the doubts of the fidelity of his wife, Arimateia charges up the hill to get behind the fanatic troops. He gets behind the fanatics and slashes or stabs three with his machete. Arimateia, in turn, is hit with a machete to his mid-section and then he is shot by another fanatic. Firmino sees his friend killed and now decides to make his own attack on the fanatics. Firmino is shot in the back and killed.
Pedro comes over to speak with Luiza. She tells him that her husband died to feed him and all the others.
Penha is busy making crosses for graves.
July l8. In the morning the battles begins anew. The people of the village stream into the fort. The soldiers attack. There are three lines of trenches used by the fanatics. They soldiers start taking a lot of casualties, but the fanatics have to abandon the first line of trenches. The soldiers now reach the fort.
Teresa tells her mother that the soldiers are coming. Penha comes out with a rifle and shoots one of the soldiers. From high up on the walls, Zé kills a couple more. The other soldiers leave the area.
Now the General rides to the fort. He is informed that Col. Tupi has been wounded. The General goes to see the Colonel, who tells the General that 27 officers are dead with 40 wounded. Pedro almost gets himself killed. He moves out of one home to head over to the home where the General is now located. Pedro says the army is losing a man for every house they take and they have only taken one house in five. He asks: "How will those left seize the remaining four fifths?" The General tells him to get out. Pedro leaves but just before he gets to another house, he is shot in the back. The General tells his staff that from now on he wants to approve everything that Pedro writes or photographs.
Pedro goes to the doctor to get the bullet out. All the space in the hospital is taken up with wounded men. Margot's husband Solano is going to have a leg amputated. He begs her not to let the doctor take his leg, but she tells him to stop crying and tells the doctor to take the leg off.
The Cadet watches with his binoculars how Luiza flirts with another soldier. At night he goes to see Luiza in her tent. He gives her a gift (probably of jewelry). She starts getting ready for sex with the Cadet. The Cadet doesn't hesitate. He goes for her. After sex, he tells Luiza that he will take her to a great city where he will make her a real lady. The Cadet's dreams are burst a bit when another soldier comes to the tent to have sex with Luiza. She is about to have sex with the man, when the cCdet comes back, forces him out of the tent and then gives him his money back. The soldier leaves. Luis throws money at Luiza, but she calmly throws it back at him while showing no reaction on her face except for defiance. Now she offers herself to have more sex with the Cadet.
The village learns from their spies that 5,000 soldiers are coming from Monte Santo to Belo Monte. A village leader, the merchant known as Antonio Vilanova says that the army has changed its plans. They are now going to starve the village out.
The saint shows himself outside. A soldier is going to shoot him, but somehow he can't seem to pull the trigger and the saint lives another day.
Now the villagers attack the soldiers to try to drive them back. In the charge, João Abade is killed. The attackers retreat.
Pedro confronts the General over his censorship of his article on the battle. The General says the article slanders Major Heroldo. The article also talks of corruption with exploitation prices for the goods the soldiers need, most of which never really reaches them. The General says: "Slander like this made the War Ministry interfere in my campaign." He also says that Pedro is rooting for the fanatics to win. Pedro says: "I just don't think these peasants are a threat to the Republic." The General now tells Pedro that he will be leaving with the wounded headed to Monte Santo.
Margot and Salano are leaving tomorrow. Luiza says maybe she will go too. Margot says Luiza should stay behind and find out if Cadet Luis would make a good match.
Luiza goes to find her regular customer Jurandir. She finds him all right, but he is dead. She leaves. She runs into some village men, but they just tell her she better be careful of where she walks. Now she walks over to listen to the saint. She sees her mother among the audience. Then she sees Teresa. When the talk is over Penha and Teresa walk back to their house. Luiza calls out to her mother and her mother opens her arms to her and they embrace. Then Teresa hugs her sister. Luiza asks about Toinho and mother says that the soldiers killed him. Teresa goes to find her father. Luiza tells her mother that resistance is futile because there are more soldiers coming. Mom says she's not leaving this place. Her daughter tells her: "They'll kill everyone, mother." Her father now shows up and father and daughter hug each other.
He tells his daughter the same thing her mother told her. He is not leaving this place regardless of what happens. Luiza pleads with him and he tells her to go. Luiza starts slowly walking away from her family. Then she stops and turns to say that she is going to enjoy watching the destruction of Belo Monte. She says to her father: "And I'll enjoy seeing the soldiers cutting your throat and sending you to hell, old fool! Because your madness destroyed our family. You killed Toinho and will kill mother and Teresa!" She says she became a prostitute because of her father, but now she has found a man, Lieutenant Luis. Father gets so angry that he is going to stab his daughter to death. Luiza tells him to go ahead and do it, but the saint intervenes telling Zé not to spill the blood of innocents. He tells Zé to go and pray.
The saint now tells Luiza to go. If she ever wants to return, the gates of Belo Monte will be open to her. Luiza runs away.
Penha tells her husband that she does not believe in miracles. She's also very mad about losing her son and her daughter Luiza. She adds, however, that she wants to stay so she can have her revenge.
As the convoy leaves for Monte Santo, the first reinforcements arrive.
Back in her tent, Luis talks with Luiza. He tells her that he is very rich and will take her to Rio de Janeiro.
More reinforcements arrive at Canudos. The new Colonel gives a message from the President to the General. The President asks for the total destruction of Canudos.
September 6. The troops use a big gun they call the Slaughterer. The big gun starts absolutely destroying the church. The church becomes just a bunch of crumbled bricks. And the village has run out of both food and ammunition. Antonio Vilanova now asks the saint permission to leave Belo Monte with his family. He gives Antonio permission to leave. Antonio grabs jewels and money from his hiding place and starts to leave.
The soldiers shoot the women and children as they try to get water from the river. The saint kills himself.
September 22. The women and some men hold a wake for the saint.
The soldiers attack the bombarded village. The first soldiers take a lot of casualties as they are mowed down by the fire from the remaining village men. Luiza watches as the dead and wounded soldiers are brought back to the camp.
October 2. Beato holds up a white flag. He is taken to see the General. Beato tells him that many of the men are still going to stay and fight. The General tells Beato to go back and get the last holdouts to surrender. This way they will not die. He will give them one hour to surrender.
Penha fires her rifle at some of the men who are going to surrender. She runs after them and is captured by a soldier.
There is a long line of people surrendering. Luiza watches as the line passes by her. She sees her mother tied up as a prisoner of war. Her father and sister are still in the village. Teresa asks her father if she could surrender and go with mother, but dad says no.
Penha is defiant in front of the general. She will be executed.
Luiza goes to Luis saying that she needs his help because the soldiers are going to kill her mother. She wants him to beg the General to spare her mother's life. Luis turns her down. It's war and her mother is on the other side, he says.
Penha wants to be shot, but the soldiers are going to slit her throat. Luiza arrives just as a soldier slits her mother's throat. She kneels down and holds her mother by her head and upper body. She puts her mother back on the ground and tears off the necklace Luis gave her. She now runs over and picks up a rifle and her hidden money. Luis asks various people about the whereabouts of Luiza.
The soldiers attack again and take a lot of casualties. The General gives the order to burn the village down to the ground. Luis is one of those who throws dynamite into the homes to destroy them He also goes around poking bodies with his bayonet to make sure they are dead. One young fellow reacts to the bayonet and Luis shoots him dead.
Luiza runs around with the rifle, probably looking for Teresa. She finds her in a house filled with people praying and singing. Together they leave the place. The sisters see people deliberately walk into blazing houses to kill themselves. Teresa starts to do the same, but Luiza won't let her. Their way is blocked by soldiers who fire at them. Luiza takes cover and fires at the soldiers. Then she sees Luis running around killing all the "scum"!
Luis is ready to throw dynamite into the house where Luiza and Teresa are hiding. Luiza shoots him, the dynamite falls to the ground and the lieutenant is blasted into the air. Now the sisters start running again. The whole of the village is now burning.
October 5, 1897. In the morning there are only three men left alive to fight for the village. Zé is one of them. He tells the men on either side of him that this is the happiest day of his life. The General gives the command for a soldier to throw dynamite into the place that is the last semblance of resistance. The three men and a small boy are killed.
On the way home, the General complains that he has been away from home for six months. He has his sergeant show Pedro the head of the saint. Pedro replies: "You disgrace the army, General. Your campaign was a crime." He leaves.
Teresa asks her sister to pray with her. Sister is not too happy about that, but she complies with the wish of her sister. The sisters now start again on their journey to a better place.
Brazil was really hard on its slaves. They destroyed the slave communities that the slaves set up (called quilombos). And here they destroy the poor people's settlement in Canudos. Luckily, modern thinking is usually kinder in these kinds of situations. (The authorities don't usually have a policy of destroying everything and killing everyone in a settlement.) The films Quilombo and The Battle of Canudos are pretty similar even if they are set at different times.
This film takes the viewer through the rebellion of the poor against the terrible treatment they endured in Brazil. The Brazilian authorities responded with absolute violence to completely destroy the settlement known as Belo Monte in Canudos, including the people of Belo Monte. The film shows the terrible poverty the selected family experienced. The family ran away with the religious leader as an attempt to get away from the terrible poverty they had at home.
The Belo Monte settlement grew very large, very quickly, as there were so many miserably poor people in the area. Usually the liberals are more likely to stand up for the poor, but in this case the liberals were told that the settlers were anti-republic and pro-monarchist in their views. Most liberals did not understand that poverty was the key issue in founding Belo Monte, not a conservative ideology that was really opposed to the republic. Poor people don't usually support conservative ideas. They want more of a piece of the economic pie, while the rich do everything in their power to keep the poor, poor. The more liberal elements in Brazil just didn't get this point. Many supported the suppression of what they thought was a pro-monarchist movement.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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