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Brazilian Film

Vinicius - Director: Miguel Faria Jr.
Screen Writer: Miguel Faria Jr. and Diana Vasconcellos
Production Company: Globo Filmes 2005
Featuring: Vinicius de Moraes, Susana Moraes, Yamandú Costa, Ferreira Gullar, Antonio Cândido, Baden Powell, Carlos Lyra, Nara Leão, Sergio Cassiano, João Gilberto, Tom Jobim, Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Maria Betânia, more…

Gabriela Davies

Vinicius is one of those films you would like to watch on a rainy day. Or after a break-up with your loved one. Or maybe after finding your loved one, cuddled up to he/she.

This is not the first Brazilian film produced around the subject of bossa nova, the musical trend from the 1960s, which became increasingly famous in the rest of the world due to Vinicius de Moraes and Tom Jobim, two of its fathers. The ‘girl from Ipanema’ (of whom I might add there are many, tall, slim, slender, and all that, walking around the streets of Ipanema at the moment), is one of Brazil’s most famous export products, and even big house names like Frank Sinatra sang their own version of it. As one will find in seeing the film, ‘the girl from Ipanema’ is not even the song the Brazilians are most proud of; there are more, many more, where that tune came from.

The film was co-produced by Miguel Faria Jr., (who also produced O Xango de Baker Street, in 2001) and Susana Moraes, who is one of Vinicius’ daughters, from his first marriage. Miguel Faria Jr. also directed the film, and the text in it is by Rubem Braga, a well-known Brazilian writer.

Vinicius was married nine times, and the documentary showcases this well with images and interviews with most of the nine wives, plus children. The Moraes name has become famous in Brazil, and most of his offspring are talented people in the creative industries. He was born and bred in Rio de Janeiro, and spent his whole life composing and writing, whilst also juggling a diplomatic career in Brazil. One of his most famous traits, however, was his alcoholism, and anyone who has seen a bossa nova concert, or any footage of the group playing, will remember the endless bottles of whisky sitting next to the likes of Vinicius, Jobim, Baden Powell, and all the other bossa nova musicians.

The film opens well. It is a panning shot of Ipanema (a beach-side neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro) in the twenty first century. Beautiful yellow sand makes its way down to the agitated sea, it might look a little rough, but most Brazilians will jump straight in. The image soon cuts to footage of Rio’s coast and the same beach fifty years ago, during the French belle époque, when ‘carioca’ (something from Rio) architecture was mimicking the French, and when Vinicius was composing his music and writing his poetry. These black and white images add to the very sombre and dramatic composition of the film’s photography. This does not make it boring, but accentuate the documental feeling that the film has. The shots are mainly close-ups, a sensible choice for the interviews with family and friends of the composer.

Poetry is in every scene. If you enjoy films with a good script, nothing could be better than the quasi-documentary Vinicius, two actors, (Camila Morgado and Ricardo Blat), perform duologues representing Vinicius’ life. The poetry is quite prosaic, and some of his most famous lines are recited by Blat. One of the classic favourites for all Brazilians is a line from one of his songs, Eu Nao Existo Sem Voce, "todo grande amor só é bem grande se for triste" (translated: any true love is only true if it is sad).

As well as this, the film brings good theatre and cinema, such as Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus), a play written by Vinicius, which then got produced into a film by Marcel Camus in 1959, with soundtrack by Vinicius de Moraes and João Gilberto, and set design by Oscar Niemeyer, the renowned Brazilian architect. Orfeu Negro won awards at the Cannes Film Festival and at the Academy Awards.

Vinicius is a film jam-packed with A-listed Brazilian personalities, interviews with Maria Betânia, Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil (who is the current Minister of Culture in Brazil), all of whom are part of a younger generation who grew up listening to Vinicius and his bossa nova on the radio and in the parties on the streets of Rio. In the 1970s Vinicius and Baden Powell (not the Scoutmaster) toured all over Europe performing their music. Public memory will recall a smiling man, aged, slightly overweight, but still with a shine in his eyes. They will recall the sweet melody of music, a group of beautiful backing vocals, songs interluded by laughing and chatter, and stages covered with whiskey and friends. Vinicius sat on stage as if he were sitting in his favourite bar, and perhaps this is one of the qualities that gives the film its great essence of easiness.

This is a film about love, and if you have ever been to Rio, you will understand. Carlos Lyra, a popular musician, mentions ‘the famous summer of ’62, which has never ended’. This is the summer the bossa nova was born, right there on the streets of Ipanema, between the sunny sands and blue waves of the Rio coastline.
© Gabriela Davies Jan 2007
gabrieladavies at

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