I was a sceptic; I thought it could not be done. I did not believe that London could host such an important global event, let alone pull it off with such grandiose confidence. But now the Olympics are over and to be honest, I dont want it to end. Particularly considering my last images may be that of Jessie J ruining Queen, or Liam Gallagher proving he needs Noel. But with Britain standing 3rd in the medal rankings, we can be proud of our athletes efforts. Whether it was handball, hockey or dressage, my eyes were opened to the magic of the Olympics and Im sad to see them go. So why not cling on for a little bit longer and join me as I attempt to blur the realms of Film and the Summer Olympics.
I'm sure you read part 1 and part 2 of the Film Olympics, but if not you can find them part 1 here, and part 2 here. But for now, here is part 3 looking at the national cinema of: Brazil, Greece, Spain, Belgium and Czechoslovakia.
Brazil 91 Medals
Perhaps my favourite national cinema, Brazil's national cinema has become one of the more popular markets on the world stage. It was not until sound entered the cinematic realm, that Brazil began to form an identity, even if that identity didn't bring much quality. The Chanchada genre which dominated its output, was a genre full of flamboyancy. Emulating the Hollywood musicals of the same era, Chanchada films were full of singing, dancing and parody. Carmen Miranda, who later became a H0llywood star, epitomized the exotic nature of the films which seemed to accentuate and reinforce Hollywood's simplistic depictions of Latin America. As cinema in Brazil progressed, the Chanchada became increasingly prominent but also started to descend into vulgarity, moving it further and further away from the reality of its nation. However in the 1970s, an era where the Chanchada was beginning to falter, Brazilian cinema began to garner more reputable attention. Inspired by Italian Neorealism, Brazil started its own movement known as Cinema Novo. Becoming Brazils cultural response to social inequality, it took inspiration from issues such as poverty and crime, using the screen as a tool to mirror its society's issues. It allowed many artists to debate the social and political aspects of the country within their narratives, and this still remains extremely noticeable within their cinema now. Unfortunately much like many other Latin American countries, the introduction of television affected cinema ticket sales, particularly with the popularity of the Telenova. Brazil was unfortunately not immune from the charm of television, luckily however, the quality of films being produced domestically, managed to remain high. Nowadays, the popularity of going to the cinema in Brazil has risen once more. With the popularity of the favela genre rising, Jose Padilhas Elite Squad series and films worldwide hits like City of God, have helped to generate a national cinema both popular at home, and abroad. Bronze - Bus 174 (Jose Padilha, 2002) One of the best documentaries of all time, Bus 174 tells the true story of a hostage situation which has a lot more depth beneath its surface. Sandro Rosa Do Nascimento boarded a bus in June of 2000, bringing with him a pistol, he planned to rob all of the passengers on-board. When a passenger alerted a nearby police car, Sandro took the bus hostage. Over the course of the day the media coverage of the situation intensifies, with much of the documentary using actual news coverage. With the negotiations becoming lengthly and protracted, tensions rose to extreme levels leading to a horrific and contentious conclusion. Jose Padilha may be the man leading the worrying Robocop remake, but before this he was very much a documentarian. This can even be seen in his most recognisable feature; Elite Squad. Which although may be tenuous in its link to real life events, is by all means influenced and inspired by real historical events and people. The brilliant thing that Padilha does with Bus 174, is how he provides us a thorough back-story to Sandro. Instead of just showing the hostage situation, he delves further into the man at the forefront of it all, giving the audience a reason to see him as the victim. Sandro was a victim of Brazils neglect of their youth and horrifyingly a victim of the police forces corruption (The massacre at the Candelaria church). The film does not strive to make him a hero or even an anti-hero, Padhila instead seeks to show his vulnerability in a system which, ultimately let him down. Silver - Black God, White Devil (Glauber Rocha, 1964) Black God, White Devil is a key part of the left wing canon of films to come out of Cinema Novo. The story revolves around Manuel, a working class farmer who kills his oppressive boss and consequently goes on the run with his wife. With no direction, he begins drifting into different theological and cultural paths, at one point he meets a black messiah like character, who demands a sacrifice from him and at another he teams with a local bandit. What becomes clear though, is that the paths being led by others need not be followed by him, instead Manuel comes to discover that his life is in own hands. Using the character of Manuel to address the oppression that many Brazilians in this time period were facing, Rocha believed that cinema should be used to comment on socio-political issues in the country. Focusing on the working class and rural landscape, Rocha used cinema as optimism, showing that change can occur for his fellow Brazilians, but it is up to them to make their own destinies. With Black God, White Devil he does just that. Gold Pixote (Hector Babenco, 1981) A film of great importance, Pixote is a documentary like story about a young boy named Pixote, who is manipulated into a life of crime. Taken to a young offenders institute, Pixote begins to turn to drugs, unable to handle the corrupt prison guards who torment its inhabitants with abuse and extreme violence. When he and a few friends have an opportunity to escape, it is not long before he is drawn back into crime. It is an extremely bleak view of Brazils youth, making it clear that they are manipulated by those that should support them, facing no hope in getting away from a criminal life, which becomes essential to survive. Seen as a mirror to real life, Pixote is Babencos best work. His unflinching account of life as a young boy on the streets of Sao Paolo, is disheartening and unfortunately very, very real. Babencos actors are amateur but moreover they are authentic. The title character Pixote is played by Fernando Ramos Da Silva and unfortunately the association with his character was hard to shake. A few years after the films release, the actor had turned to crime, leading to his eventual and much debated death at the hands of a police force not too dissimilar to the films.