Glauber Rocha and the Aesthetics of Hunger


"Cinema Novo's miserabilism is opposed to the digestive cinema championed by the oldest critic from Guanabara, Carlos Lacerda: films about rich people, in their houses, in luxury cars, happy funny fast films without messages, films with purely industrial aims. These are the films that stand in contrast to hunger, as if in luxury apartments, filmmakers could hide the moral wretchedness of an nebulous and fragile bourgeoisie, or as if the technical materials and sets themselves could hide the hunger that is taking root in this very uncivilization. Above all, as if through this tropical landscape apparatus, the mental indigence of the filmmakers who make this type of film could be dissimulated. What made Cinema Novo into an internationally important phenomenon was the degree of its commitment to the truth; once written by the literature of the thirties, this very miserabilism was now photographed by the cinema the sixties. If it was once written as a social condemnation, today it is discussed as a political problem. [...]"


"We understand this hunger that the European and most Brazilians do not understand. For the Europeans it is a strange tropical surrealism. For the Brazilians, it is a national disgrace. The Brazilian does not eat, but he is ashamed to say so. And, mostly, he does not understand where this hunger comes from.We, makers of those ugly and sad films, those shouted and desperate films where reason does not always speak in the loudest voice, we know that hunger will not be cured by the cabinet's formulations and that Technicolor patches do not hide, but only worsen, hunger’s tumors. Thus, only a culture of hunger, drenched in its own structures, can take a qualitative leap. And the noblest cultural manifestation of hunger is violence. The act of begging, a tradition set up along with redeeming; colonialist pity, has been one of the causes of political mystification and of a haughty cultural lie: official tales of hunger ask the colonizing countries for money in order to build schools without creating teachers, to build houses without giving work, to teach a trade without teaching the alphabet. Diplomats solicit, economists solicit, politicians solicits. On the international front, Cinema Novo did not solicit anything, but rather imposed the violence of its images and sounds at twenty two international festivals."

--- The Aesthetics of Hunger
Glauber Rocha