Bye, Bye Brasil  (Bye, Bye Brazil) (1980)

 

 

 

 

Director:     Carlos Diegues.

Starring:     JosÚ Wilker (Lorde Cigano), Betty Faria (SalomÚ), Fßbio J˙nior (Cišo), Zaira Zambelli (Dasd˘), PrÝncipe Nabor (Andorinha / Swallow), Emmanuel Cavalcanti (Prefeito / Mayor), JosÚ Mßrcio Passos (Assessor Prefeito / Mayor's Assistant), Carlos Kroeber (Caminhoneiro / Truck Driver).

a caravan act starts to go down hill as the old Brazil starts vanishing and the caravan comes to be replaced with movie theaters and television

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.

The street vendors are selling their wares in the downtown section of a small town.  An accordionist named Cišo plays on the street while his pregnant wife picks up the tips.  A carnival truck comes driving into town.  Over the loudspeaker Lorde Cigano says:  "Most honorable civilian, military and church dignitaries.  After an extended tour in SŃo Paulo, and the rest of the south, we're back in this progressive town of the northeast backlands with the Caravana Rolidei, which has the great honor to present to you  its great attractions:  the incredible Swallow, the Muscle King; the international star, SalomÚ, Queen of the Rhumba; and the extraordinary and unique Gypsy Lord, King of Magicians and Clairvoyants."  Cigano does a couple of tricks for the crowd.  The mayor of the town shouts out to Cigano and Cigano is happy to see him again. 

People come into the tent set up for the performances.  Cigano the Gypsy Lord says he can make it snow in Brazil.  White material starts falling.  Cišo's wife Dasd˘ says it's "grated coconut".  That act is followed by the dance by SalomÚ.  Cišo is very taken by SalomÚ and her dance. 

The act is over.  The mayor comes out of the tent (after having sex with SalomÚ) feeling good.  Cišo also waits outside the tent.  When the men are gone, SalomÚ comes outside for just a moment.  She goes back inside.  Cišo makes noises with his throat and SalomÚ comes out again. She tells the accordionist that the show is closed.  Cišo smiles and laughs a little because the woman supposedly from the Caribbean speaks perfect Brazilian Portuguese.  So SalomÚ says good night to him in Spanish and goes inside again. 

Cišo explains to his father that he is taking off with the carnival troupe.  He doesn't want to die in the backlands.  And he wants to see the sea. 

Cišo tells Cigano that he wants to go with them.  He says he can play the accordion.  Cigano tells him they have a phonograph, but SalomÚ says it would be nice to have some live music.  The truck starts to leave town.  Cišo says he will help put up the tent and even sell tickets.  And his wife is a good cook.  The truck keeps going.  Cišo starts playing a fast tune on his accordion, but when he sees the truck disappear around the corner, he is crushed.  Then he sees the truck backing up and hears the horn blowing for him and his wife.  The two run over to the truck and get in the back.

The truck pulls out while Cišo plays his accordion in the back.  The truck is soon traveling over a dirt road.  They pass trucks filled with sugar cane.  They stop at a truck stop.  A truck driver tells Cigano about a place called Altamira that is in the heart of the Transamazonian Road.  The fellow tells tall tales about how great Altamira is.  Cigano asks if there are a lot of Indians in the area?  The truck driver says there used to be, but people got tired of the Indians being a nuisance.  So someone hired a pilot to fly over and drop sticks of dynamite on their villages.  How far away is this Altamira?  Not long, says the trucker.  Just four of five days of driving. 

The carnival reaches a town and the truck gets into a terrific traffic jam.  Cigano notices television antennas (he calls them fishbones) all over the roofs of the town buildings.  The truck heads for the sea.  Cišo is thrilled at the sight.  He asks the boss if he can go wading, but Cigano says no because the water is badly polluted. 

The truck is now back on dirt roads.  Cigano drives over to the beach in an area that is not polluted.  Now Cišo can go into the water.  The young fellow is just thrilled about it. 

In the next town where they perform, there are only nine people in attendance.  Cigano complains to SalomÚ that they used to make good money in this town, but no more.  He goes to check out the town to see where are the people.  He finds a big crowd just sitting in the town square watching a public television set above their heads and in front of them.  Cigano and SalomÚ go among the audience trying to get their attentions, but they're virtually glued to the television.  Cigano starts talking to the crowd, while SalomÚ goes into the control room.  When it's time for his magic trick, he says the magic phrase, SalomÚ puts something in the works and the television explodes. 

The police escort the couple back to their tent.  They have to pack up and go away now.  To taunt the police, Cigano says this town doesn't deserve the great beauty and performer SalomÚ.  He takes her into the tent to have sex with her.  Dasd˘ laughs.  Inside the tent SalomÚ is almost fully naked.  (Brief nudity.) 

In the morning the police are still waiting for Cigano to leave.  Cigano calls for the accordionist to come to him.  Cišo comes into the tent.  SalomÚ covers herself with her negligee except for her left breast.  (Brief nudity.)  Cigano notices how closely Cišo looks at SalomÚ.  He says they are moving on. 

The carnival truck comes into a sleepy little town where a pray-for-rain procession is taking place on the main street.  The truck's music is blasting away and the horn is used to move the procession out of the way.  Cigano figures they've got it made in this town, because the people don't even have electricity, so no television.  Cigano asks a fellow what's the name of the town and the man advises him to cut off that music.  The people of the town are just standing in the street staring at the truck.  Cigano sits by the man with the free advice who tells Cigano that it hasn't rained all year long.  Cigano assumes the man is local, but finds out that he uses a projector to show backlands people films.  He runs a film for Cigano, while telling him he used to make a good amount of money, but no more.  Now he can make money only in very isolated little towns without electricity.  In this particular town, he can't even charge for tickets.  The poor are so poor they can only watch the movie if they barter something for entrance into the theater.  He gets food, lodging, liquor, watermelon, etc. The older man says he is pulling out tomorrow to make room for "Caravana Holiday". 

Cišo plays his accordion as he watches SalomÚ.  She goes inside the tent and he follows her.  She dances with him to the music playing on the photograph.  She kisses him.  She takes off his shirt, but tells him:  "I'm taking you to bed, but don't think you own it.  When I do it for free, I do as I please."  She takes off her negligee and lays down on the bed.  Cišo lays on top of her. 

Cigano starts to go into the tent, but Dasd˘ tells him that her husband is in the tent.  So Cigano waits.  The old man leaves town now. 

Cigano does his act of telepathy. He describes the loss of a husband who was beloved, the husband that now stands before him to tell his wife to stop crying for him because he's okay.  Then in the dark, but with a flashlight, he finds some woman crying and then focuses on her.  Cigano keeps asking for other questions.  A farmer asks a very sad question.  The farmer says that they don't own the land and the land is very poor anyways.  They haven't had a crop in two years even though they have prayed for rain.  Does Cigano think God is just distracted from hearing their prayers or does God truly not like the people of the village?  Cigano has no ready answer for that question.  An older Indian woman comes to the front singing a prayerful song.  Cigano calls for the lights to go up, but there is no response to his request.  An older woman comes up front and says:  "My family is gone.  My sons, in-laws, grandchildren.  I was left alone with my man who died last week.  Now I want to join my family.  Good Saint, tell me: Where did they go?"  Cigano forgets himself and asks:  "How should I know?"  He catches himself and goes back into character.  He says her family now is alive and living in a place so wonderful that hardly any work has to be done.  The place is:  Altamira.

Cigano looks for his map of Brazil in the truck's glove compartment.  He finds it and then finds Altamira on the map.  He tells his carnival family that in Altamira pineapples grow to the size of watermelons.  And you can find real gems just lying on the ground.  He shouts out:  "Enough poverty!"

The young girl gives birth to a girl.  Cigano holds the baby up and wants to call her:  Altamira.   SalomÚ walks over to the new father and says:  "Take your wife and your daughter and go home.  Or else, go to Brasilia. You'll get a decent job there." 

Now the truck goes through the rain in the rain forest.  The truck is put on a river ferry and taken to the other side of the river.  The truck rolls on through the twilight. 

The next morning in the tent the group awakens near the road by a lake.  Cišo wades in the lake water.  An Indian family comes over to the edge of the road and looks down at the strangers.  Cišo gets stung by a ray and screams for help.  Swallow runs into the lake and grabs the young man up and puts him on the lake bank.  One of the Indian family comes down close to Cigano to tell him that a poison ray stung his friend and the pain can be taken away by pissing on the wound.  So Cigano rushes over to Cišo and starts to pull his penis out, but Cišo refuses to let Cigano piss on his leg.

SalomÚ tells Cigano that the man with the medical advice is the chief of his tribe.  The chief says that ever since the white men have moved into the area, his tribe has been headed to ruination.  So now he and his small tribe need a ride to Altamira. 

The tribe is in the back of the truck now headed for Altamira.  Cigano gets on the loudspeaker to announce they are approaching Altamira.  He says:  "Altamira, the Princess of the Xingu River."  SalomÚ gets out of the truck to take a closer look at Altamira.  She says fish bones ( that is, TV antennas).   In other words, Altamira will not be a good place for the carnival act. 

Altamira is no paradise.  The main street is a dirt road.  Cattle are herded down the street.  Cigano sees a paper plant advertisement for workers.  He takes a close look at it and the recruiter tries to sign him up.  He says the pay is good and it's on time.  It's "Gringo work" (meaning easy work).  Cigano asks the recruiter when did the Transamazonia Road open up?  Severn or eight years ago.  Cigano curses because the truck driver had told him the highway had just recently opened up. 

There is an big airport at Altamira.  Cigano complains to his crew about the supposedly "new" road.  He said he was misled.  He adds:  "This joint's busier than Rio and SŃo Paolo combined."  After Cigano leaves the tent, Cišo pours the water out of the bucket and tells his wife to go fetch some water for washing.  He wants to talk in private to SalomÚ.  When his wife leaves the tent, he tells SalomÚ that he can only think about her.  He tells her that he loves her.  This makes SalomÚ angry and she says it makes her sick.  She tells her suitor that his unfulfilled desires are not her problem. 

At a bar people are dancing.  Cigano is trying to make money off of Swallow by calling for an arm rustling contest that involves gambling.  Swallow is defeating everyone, so the recruiter goes and gets a huge black man for the contest.   The younger black man defeats Swallow and wins the money.  Cigano must have kept on betting because he now has to give his truck to the recruiter.  Swallow feels very bad and walks with his head down.  The Indians sing songs around a campfire.   

And now Cigano has to ask SalomÚ to earn them some money to get them out of Altamira.  SalomÚ just gets up and leaves to start earning some money.  Swallow is down by the river wailing away at the full moon. Cišo leaves.

Cigano sees his chance to have sex with the wife of the accordionist.  He doesn't even have to ask because Dasd˘ is ready.  She takes off her dress and they kiss.  (Brief nudity.)  The next morning Cišo awakens to the crying of his baby girl.  He doesn't see his wife around.  She comes into the tent with her dress back on.  Cišo realizes that Cigano had sex with his wife.  He walks over to Cigano who only says that Swallow is gone for good.  SalomÚ comes back to the tent and gives her boyfriend a wad of money.  Cigano walks over to Cišo, gives him some of the money and says that the carnival is finished.  "Take your share and go."  But Cišo says he wants to go with Cigano and SalomÚ.  Cigano explains that they are going to a whorehouse.  Cišo says his wife can work there too.  SalomÚ and Cigano are shocked.  Would the husband have his wife become a whore?  Apparently, yes.  So Cigano sets some rules.  He will be the boss and they will split the money made by the two women four ways.  And Cišo must tell his wife very soon about the new arrangement. 

Cigano knows when Cišo has told his wife, because she comes down to the lower deck of the steamboat on the river and just stares at Cigano and SalomÚ.  They are headed to BelÚm on the banks of the Amazon.  Once in BelÚm Cigano finds out from one of the workers where the whorehouses are.  The head of the bordelo approaches Cigano about coming in with him on the smuggling of ore to the Gringos in BelÚm, but Cigano says no. 

Dasd˘ comes out on the dance floor to start working as a prostitute.  She looks very sexy.  A man comes up almost immediately to proposition Dasd˘.  Her husband gets angry and pushes the man down to the floor.  Cigano rushes over to reproach Cišo saying that it was Cišo who wanted Dasd˘ to be a whore.  He now tells Dasd˘ to get out on the floor.  Her husband says no again.  He says he is going to Brasilia and will get a good job to take care of his wife and child. 

A drunken Cišo calls out for SalomÚ, but she is with a customer.  (Brief nudity)  She gives the customer a blow job to finish him off and then goes over to see what's going on.  SalomÚ comes to speak with Cišo.  He says Dasd˘ is waiting for him at the bus station, but he's not going to Brasilia.  He starts crying about how he loves SalomÚ,  She gives him a hug and a few kind words but then says they are going to the terminal to be with his wife and daughter.  He says no and starts to walk away.  Cigano trips him.  He then helps the young man up and hits him in the face with his fist.  They put the unconscious Cišo in a wheel chair and wheel him out to the bus at the bus station.  SalomÚ says Chou to Dasd˘.  The two smile at each other. 

In Brasilia the new families are given a tour of Brasilia by a social worker.  They are driven out to their new place.  It's not much of anything, but it is a place to start a new life. 

Some time later.  The whole family does an act as part of a musical band led by Cišo.  The little girl and her mother play the triangle and  Cišo plays the accordion.  Suddenly Cišo hears Cigano's voice over the loudspeaker giving his spiel for the carnival called "Caravana Rolidey".  He runs out to see if he can find them.  He finds them in a really nice show truck.  And now Cigano is wearing a very fancy tuxedo.  SalomÚ is also dressed very well.  (She tells Cišo that Cigano got the money through smuggling.)  Cigano blows a whistle.  The center of the trailer opens up and there standing and singing are three pretty female singers.  Now they tell Cišo they want to have him and his family join them on the road.  But Cišo says no.  So the two performers get back in their truck and take off, just as Dasd˘ comes out to see what's going on.  

 

Good, entertaining film.  I first saw it quite a few years ago when I was dabbling into the Portuguese language.  I liked it then and I like it now.  Brazil is changing.  Super highways go through the Amazon opening up the last great frontier of Brazil to development.  Everything is changing so fast in Brazil that two carnival performers find that their act can no longer financially support them.  Movie theaters and television have come even to backwoods places.  Now the carnival act is down to surviving only in towns with no electricity, but that's not enough to support the carnival troupe.  To complicate things, love stories are thrown into the mix, but the film is about the fast developing country of Brazil that leaves old ways of life in the dirt.  JosÚ Wilker (as Lorde Cigano) and Betty Faria (as SalomÚ) were both terrific in the film. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D..  

 

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