Netto Perde Sua Alma (translation:  Netto Loses His Soul)(2001)

 

 

 

 

Director:     Tabajara Ruas, Beto Souza.

Starring:     Werner Schünemann (Gen. Netto),  Laura Schneider (Maria Escayola),   Sirmar Antunes (Sgt. Caldeira),  Bebeto Alves (Violeiro),  José Antônio Severo (Lucas de Oliveira),  André ArtecheLisa Becker (Enfermeira Catarina),  Nélson Diniz (Teixeira),  Márcia do Canto (Enfermeira Zubiaurre),  Colmar Duarte (Calengo),  Ricardo Duarte (João Antônio),  Araci Esteves (Sra. Guimarães),  João França (Capt. De Los Santos),  Tau Golin (Corte Real),  Arines Ibias (Dr. Phillip Blood).   

General Antônio de Souza Netto fights the Farroupilha Revolution (1835-1845) (Garibaldi 's 1st military experience) & the Paraguayan War (1864-1870) leading an army of gauchos & black lancers

 

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

"The Farrapos War (1835-1845) took place in Rio Grande do Sul.  It was a movement favoring the Republic and the Abolition of Slavery against the Brazilian Empire.  The Paraguayan War (1865-1871) embraces the Triple Alliance:  Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay against the Paraguay of President Solano Lopez.  Netto took part in both wars.  And in many others."

Gen. Netto is down on the ground covered with dirt over his entire body. 

Argentina 1866.  Second year of the Paraguayan War, Corrientes Military Hospital.  Gen. Netto is brought into the hospital and laid on a table.  The nurses remove his military clothing.  There is an A on his shirt and the women wonder what could the A stand for?  He has a nasty open gash on his left thigh that should be stitched up. 

The doctor is Lt. Col. Phillip Blood.  Netto tells the nurse:  "His hands smell like piss."

 

Act I:  Captain of the Saints and a bit of imagination. 

A nurse cleans a captain's wound.  The fellow is named Captain of the Saints.  Meanwhile, he is busy telling the nurse, Sister Zubiaurre, how to prepare a savory dish of cooked rabbit.  He then tells her that the recipe will not increase the size of Blood's penis because that is not God's will.  Dr. Blood comes over just glaring at the captain. 

The doctor takes a look at the general's wound and tells him that it is a very serious wound. 

The doctor starts praising the patient next to the right hand side of the captain.  The man disarmed a Paraguayan canon with his bare hands.  The doctor now tells the captain that tomorrow they will operate on his wound. 

In the operating room the doctor tells the nurse:  "The fever won't come down because the infection is too severe."  He adds that even Brazilian generals are not made of iron. 

The doctor operates on the captain.  When the captain sees what the doctor did, he goes a  bit crazy  They have to hold him down.  The captain says the doctor took both legs from him on purpose.
The doctor checks on the general.  He orders another morphine shot for the general.  The general tells him that he doesn't need the morphine because he is not feeling any pain.  The doctor tells the general that the general has to do what the doctor orders, because in the hospital the doctor is in charge.  If the general wants to keep his leg, he will do exactly what the doctor tells him.  Netto says:  "That didn't work for the captain."  The doctor replies that gangrene had spread all over the captain's legs. 

The nurse writes a letter dictated by Netto.  She records that the general got her letter while he was at the front in Paraguay.  He's happy that their girls are happy.  Mr. Thornton, the British ambassador, wrote him a get well car.  The diplomat used the opportunity to remind the general that it was he who introduced Netto to his future wife at his house in Paissandu, Uruguay. 

Flashback.  Paissandu, Uruguay, four years earlier, 1862.  The ambassador, the general and a beautiful woman named Maria sit down to talk.  They talk about the general saying it is unusual for a general to have his own army.  They also mention that Netto believes a republic as the best form of government. 

Netto and the pretty woman go out for a walk.  She says that besides people, she loves horses the most. 

Back to the present.  The general awakens at night and calls over to the hero soldier Ramirez.  Netto tells him that they took, Captain de Los Santos away.    The hero says that the Captain was useless anyway and taking up space from someone who really needs help.  It's good he's dead.  Netto asks who said the Captain was dead?  The hero turns around again and goes back to sleep.  Sgt. Caldeira comes into the room.  He has come to pay a visit to the general.  The general tells him to sit down.  He asks the sergeant how is the brigade?  The brigade morale is good.  The war, however, is not good.  Netto asks:  "We didn't do too bad at Tuiuti, did we, sergeant?"

The sergeant tells the general that he received a letter from counselor Domingos de Almeida.  Domingo heard from Captain Garibaldi.  The letter was sent from Italy.  He's a general now.  Garibaldi asks how are the veterans of the Revolution of 1835?  That was about 30 years ago says the sergeant.  Garibaldi reminisces over the names of those men who were such great fighters in the War of the Ragamuffins.  Netto tells Caldeira that he has something more he has to do:  "I have to kill a man."

Flashback.  Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, 1836.  Second year of Farrapo's War (or War of the Ragamuffins), thirty years earlier.
 

Act II.  Milonga.

Two men, one of them a colonel, go down to a farmhouse to look at some horses.  A woman comes out with a rifle pointed at them.  One of the men says:  "We come in peace, ma'am."  They got separated from their colleagues and now all they want to do is buy two horses.  They are on their way to Porto Alegre.  They are Rio-Grandenses.  The woman tells them to get off her property, so the two officers starts leaving.  An older woman with a musket asks the officers what are their names?  Captain Teixeira Nunes from the 1st Lancers Corps.  His companion's name must be kept secret.  The older woman knows the Teixeira's family from Piratini.  The captain now asks her what is her family name?  Guimaraes.  The captain says he knows two fellows by the name of Guimaraes who serve in the 2nd Cavalry Corps under Colonel Onofre Pires' command:  Captain Guimaraes and his brother, Lieutenant Anthony Guimaraes.  The woman says that those men are her sons.  The other woman with the rifle is her daughter-in-law and the young black fellow hiding behind the corner is Milonga. 

Netto and Nunes go riding across the plain.  They quit early and have something to eat.  Milonga finds their camp and stops to talk with them.  Milonga says he wants to join the lancers corps, but Nunes tells him that he is just too young to be a soldier.  Both men want him to return to the ranch and help the women there.  Milonga says he's just a slave on the ranch.  Netto says after the war, Milonga will be a free man.  Milonga replies:  "Black men, gathered round the fire, talk about you and the Hawk."  They call Nunes the Hawk and Netto the "Liberator".  Nevertheless, the men insist that Milonga return to the ranch. 

The two men stop for a water break by a waterfall.  A fellow there dressed as a priest says good afternoon to them.  He goes on to say that he is in need of horses.  Nunes and Netto are very much on their guard now.  There is another fellow who comes out of the woods playing a flute.  Then comes out a man with a sword and still another man with a boleadeira.  The "priest" tells the man to throw the boleadeira.  The man starts swinging the strings around his head.  The man with the sword charges at Netto and is shot dead.  The strings and weights wrap around the body of Nunes but he has enough time to shoot the thrower dead.   The priest has a pistol in his hand, so Netto throws a knife into his mid-section.  The flute player with a knife now gets shot down.  The priest readies to shoot Netto but a bullet from the woods hits the priest and he goes down dead.  The two soldiers look around and finally spot Milonga.

So Milonga goes with the men.  As the trio proceeds they meet up with their army.  The men and women are happy to see Nunes and Netto and a big shout comes up from them.  Netto takes over the lead position.  At the night encampment Netto speaks to his army.  He says they are not professional soldiers, but rather ranchers, craftsmen, businessmen, farmers, intellectuals, clergy and rebel slaves.  He refers to them as the First Cavalry Brigade.  Tomorrow they will fight the government that oppresses them. 

Netto turns Milonga over to the care of a black sergeant, Sgt. Caldeira, and asks him to watch out for the young man.  Milonga goes with the sergeant.  Music is being played and women and men are dancing.  The sergeant gives Milonga a red shirt to wear so that he will look like the other men in red. 

Back to the present.  in his hospital bed Netto asks Sgt. Caldeira what would he do if a mediocre surgeon amputated two legs from a man and that man told the sergeant that the doctor did it out of malevolence.  Netto says he is going to report the doctor.  The sergeant says the authorities may not believe him.  The general says that's possible, but he feels it's his duty to denounce the doctor.  Sarge says that life brings great decisions to make:  "Do you remember that time at Seival Battle?"

Netto writes to Maria.  "If God won't let me leave this hospital alive, Maria, I want you to tell our daughters I always fought for human beings.  Slavery is humiliating."  He writes that in his army black and white men rode together to fight the Empire." 

Flashback. 

 

Act III.  The Republic. 

Netto's soldiers had two words to sum up their cause:  "Abolition and Republic."

At the Battle of Seival, the two armies meet on an open plain.  The two sides charge at each other.  Some of the women participated in the battle on Netto's side.  Netto wins the battle. 

Enemy Major Davi Francisco won't give up his sword and surrender.  Netto comes over to him and says that the major will be treated as a comrade in arms.  The major pulls out a pistol and shoots himself dead. 

At the encampment Netto is told that their army suffered 180 casualties.  Netto himself was wounded in battle.  The feeling in camp is that the colonel must declare a republic separate from the rest of Brazil.  So Netto calls all the officers together.  Before this meeting, Netto asks Sgt. Caldeira wasn't he and his fellows free up there in the Encantada Mountains?  The sergeant says that when they heard that there were men fighting for the abolition of slavery and the creation of a republic, all the men came down to fight.   He adds that to be really secure and free, they need a country. 

The next day an officer reads a proclamation to the soldiers.  They declare the founding of the Rio-Grandense Republic.  Menezes' Field, September 11, 1836.  A big cheer comes up from the brigade.  Nunes comes riding up with the new country's flag that is all red in color except for the upper left corner that is green and a lower right corner that is yellow.  Milonga feels a great deal of pride for what he has helped to accomplish. 

Nine years later.   

 

Act IV.  The Encantada Mountains. 

Milonga is missing his lower left leg and has to use crutches.  He is together with some other deserters.  Sgt. Caldeira comes up to the group of deserters.  He complains that they killed an old man.  The black deserters say that the old man shot and wounded a deserter named Palometa.  The deserters say that they have heard that they will all be slaves again working for the court in Rio de Janeiro.  One of the deserters says they have fought for the republic for ten years.  Doesn't that entitle them to their freedom?  The sergeant says that the cause of abolition and the republic was defeated by the imperials and their side had no political power to demand abolition and freedom. 

The men want the sergeant to lead them into exile and freedom in the mountains, but Sgt. Caldeira says that their best alternative is to still support the idea of a republic and to work with the republicans.  He adds:  "Slavery is over in the rest of the world.  It'll be over here too."  Palmeto tells him:  "You're talking like a white man, sergeant."  Milonga is now a very bitter man.  The sergeant tells him he can remain a rude deserter being chased all the time or ". . . join those who want to make a difference!"  Milonga shouts:  "Those who want to abolish slavery have ulterior motives!"  Milonga says that if they go back, they will be killed.  They want to go to the Encantada Mountains.  The sergeant says he is not going with them.  The Encantadas are four days on horseback to the east. 

Palometa is in a very bad condition.  He talks about his dream of having a small home and breeding horses.  He dies. 

Triunfo, Rio Grande do Sul, two days later.  A former officer, Joaquim, with Netto begs him not to leave.  Sgt. Caldeira sees Milonga come riding into town.  Netto says he is going to go back to Uruguay.  Joaquim tells him that slavery will be abolished and a republic founded.  Netto agrees with that.  He observes:  "What kills me is the fate of the black men who fought in the war.  They were the only real losers."

Milonga comes up to Netto saying he is going to kill him.  Joaquim goes for his pistol, but Netto stops him.  Netto tells Milonga:  "The war is over, Milonga."  Milonga bitterly says:  "But I'm still a slave!"  He also asks:  "General, where is our republic?!"    Milonga says the general lied to the blacks.  Netto answers him:  "I didn't lie.  I just lost the war."  Milonga asks where is Hawk and the general says he's dead.  Milonga yells at the general while pulling his pistol.  Sgt. Caldeira shoots Milonga dead. 

Back to the present.  The general tells Sgt. Caldeira that most of the men mentioned in Garibaldi's letter are dead now, except for Netto.  He goes on to say that Nunes died a month before the peace treaty.  The ghost of Nunes stood across the center hall from Netto's bed.   Sgt. Caldeira asks Netto's permission to get revenge by killing a man.  Which man?  The one in this very room, Ramirez.  Netto gives the sergeant permission. 

 

Act V.  Miss Maria. 

Flashback.  Uruguay, 1861, Piedra Sola. 

Netto is sitting in a big comfortable chair near the fireplace.  He sleeps on and off.  He awakens and thinks he sees Milonga standing right beside him looking at him. 

The general rides out to a beautiful viewing point overlooking the plain.  He rides over to see Miss Maria.  She tells him she had heard a lot about his dalliances with women.  She also has heard that at his house in Uruguay he has some 200 slaves.  Netto says the blacks work for him of their own free will.

Maria and Netto go for a walk.  He says the nights are long in Piedra Sola.  Maria says the afternoons are long in Paissandu.  She tells him that when she was 18 years old, she was engaged to a cavalry officer.  He left for the war and when he came back both of his arms were missing.  Netto says she makes him feel stronger.  He wants to use a word with her that he doesn't use at all.  Maria turns her head telling the general not to say the word.  He keeps following her face as she keeps turning it away from him.  He finally says the word:  love.  She asks him:  "Isn't there another war coming soon?" 

Four years later.  1865.  Maria is crying.  Netto tries to get close to her, but she keeps pulling away from him.  She finally stops and the two kiss each other passionately.  He has to pull away from her grasp.  His two daughters wait by the horses and the soldiers.  Netto gets on his horse and rides out with the soldiers. 

 

Back to the present.

Act VI.  Sergeant Caldeira.  Pregnant women, poor old people. 

The sergeant is strangling the patient Ramirez.   As he does so, he tells the general that Ramirez ordered his men to dig a hole big enough to throw into it all the survivors from a village called Ajui-Chico.  The people were all unarmed and poor.  He also gave an order to the people to throw into the river the body of a man who died of cholera so that the disease would spread all over the area.  He also saw Ramirez skinning an Indian to sell his skin.  He says the Paraguayans have also committed terrible war crimes, but the criminals are being punished.  And Ramirez was probably going to get away with his crimes.  In fact, says the sergeant, Ramirez was probably going to get a medal. 

Netto helps hold Ramirez down while Caldeira strangles him to death.  A nurse hears some noise but she doesn't get up to check on it.  Now, says Caldeira, they will kill the doctor. 

A nurse awakens nurse Zubiaurre and tells her that it's time for her shift. 

Caldeira goes into the doctor's officer where the doctor is sleeping.  He walks over to the doctor, puts his hand over his mouth and slits the man's throat.  Caldeira tells Netto:  "This one won't slaughter anybody else."

Nurse Zubiaurre comes downstairs and starts walking down a hall.  She stops abruptly when she reaches the stream of blood flowing toward her.  She screams.

Netto and Caldeira go down to cross the river.  Netto remembers all the different types of people he has killed.  A guy with a canoe comes to them.   Caldeira says he has already crossed this stream.  It is Netto's turn to cross the stream. Netto gets in the canoe and across the stream he goes.   

 

Good film.  Gen. Netto was quite the committed soldier.  He spent most of his adult life fighting various wars.  The films covers two of the wars, but Netto was in many other wars as well.  His one big regret was that he did not have much time to spend with his wife and his two daughters, but the fellow just seemed to be too addicted to fighting to stay home.  His family suffered a great deal because the husband/father was gone most of the time.  There is lots of action in the film and it keeps one wondering what will happen next.  I enjoyed it.

Werner Schünemann (as Gen. Netto) was very good,  Laura Schneider (as Maria Escayola) did not have that much of role, but she is beautiful in the film.  Sirmar Antunes (as Sgt. Caldeira) and   Nélson Diniz (as Teixeira) were also good.. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

 

1801  --  the future General Antônio Netto was born in Rio Grande. 

Netto was a famous abolitionist and fought for the release of the slaves who had fought during the revolution.

before 1835  --  the state economy of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil (northeast of Uruguay) was very different from the rest of the country's economies. Rio Grande do Sul's economy thrived on the internal market rather than exporting commodities. The state's main product was charque (dried and salted beef).  The sales of charque suffered badly from competition from charque imported from Uruguay and Argentina, which had free access to Brazilian markets.  Moreover the residents of Rio Grande do Sul were charged high taxes inside Brazil.

1835  --  a war broke out called The War of the Ragamuffins (Portuguese: Guerra dos Farrapos) over these economic differences in the economy.  The war was a Republican uprising that began in southern Brazil, in the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina.

The rebel generals were Bento Gonçalves da Silva and Antônio de Sousa Netto.  Also involved in the fighting was the Italian fighter Giuseppe Garibaldi.

He was a Tatter Revolutionary leader.

1835  --  Antônio Rodrigues Fernandes Braga was nominated president of Rio Grande do Sul.  He, however, got off to a rocky start when he accused many farmers of being separatists.

1835 (September 20)  --  General Bento Gonçalves captured the capital, Porto Alegre (eastern central part of Rio Grande do Sul, beginning an uprising.  The state president fled to the city of Rio Grande, two hundred kilometers to the south. In Porto Alegre, the rebels elected Marciano Pereira Ribeiro their new president.

1835  --  the village of Bagé (southern Rio Grande do Sul) once again was witness to battles and pillaging. One of the most important, the Battle of Seival, took place between imperialist and republican forces.  The Republicans were led by Antônio de Souza Netto. The latter was victorious and he proclaimed the República Rio – Grandense.

1836 (September 11)  --  Netto declares the independence of the Piratini Republic.  Bento Gonçalves was the president nominee, but he was arrested and jailed by imperial forces.

1837  --  Bento escapes.  Porto Alegre was recaptured by the empire and the rebels never managed to regain it.

1839  --  the Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi joins the rebels. With his help, the revolution spread through Santa Catarina, which adjoined Rio Grande do Sul to the north. One of the main cities of Santa Catarina, Laguna, was taken by the Ragamuffins.  Four months later, Laguna fell back into imperial hands.  Later Garibaldi was the military leader of the Unification of Italy. 

1840  --  amnesty is offered to the rebels, which they refused although it was clear that they had no chance of winning.

1841  --  The war causes the rushed coronation of Dom Pedro II (at the time he was only 15 years old), in direct violation of the Brazilian constitution.

1842  --  the issuing of a republican constitution by the Ragamuffins.  General Lima e Silva (soon Duke of Caxias) takes office and tries to find a diplomatic settlement of the situation.

1845  --  the rebels surrender to the imperial forces.  The War of the Ragamuffins is considered the second bloodiest of the failed wars of independence to have ever occurred in the Brazilian Empire, after the War of Cabanagem.

1845 (March 1)  --  the peace negotiations. led by Lima e Silva and Antônio Vicente da Fontoura, concluded with the signing of the Ponche Verde Treaty between the two sides, in Dom Pedrito.  The treaty offered the rebels full amnesty, full incorporation into the imperial army and the choice of the next provincial president. All the debts of the Riograndense Republic were paid off by the Empire and a tariff of 25% was introduced on imported charque.  As a goodwill gesture, the Ragamuffins chose Lima e Silva as the next provincial president.

1851  --  Netto fought this year in the War against Rosas. His cavalry brigade of Volunteers in Rio Grande were organized entirely at their own expense, which earned Netto a promotion to brigadier Honorary Army

1864  -  beginning of the Paraguayan War (1864-1870) between Paraguay and the Triple Alliance (Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay).  This war caused more deaths proportionally than any other war in modern history, and particularly devastated Paraguay, killing most of its male population.  It was a struggle for physical power over the strategic Río de la Plata region.

Netto and his personal army fought in the Paraguayan War. 

1866  --  death of General Antônio Netto in Corrientes.  In the battle of Tuiuti, it was important to defend the flank of the Brazilian army, but Netto was wounded by a bullet and sent to hospital in Corrientes , Argentina.  There he died and was initially buried.

1966  --  on the the centenary of Netto's death, his body was exhumed and transferred to a mausoleum in Bagé.

 

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