Cinematography: Brazil Burning


João Moreira Salles
Brazil 2007
80 min

João Moreira Salles, brother of well-known director Walter Salles and son of a diplomatist and minister, chooses to take up an old project – a cinematic portrait of his butler, a man from the Argentinean countryside who lived for decades with the director’s aristocratic family in a mansion in Rio de Janeiro. This lonely man – slightly effeminate and owner of a portentous memory – was not only fluent in six diferent languages and loved Giotto’s paintings and Wagner’s music, but also devoted his life to writing a 30,000 page universal history of the world’s aristocracy; this bizarre hobby for a servant stands in perfect dialectic opposition to Salles’ attempt to film them. While Santiago’s interventions are of an existential and encyclopedic nature, Salles’ of-screen participations are poetical and philosophical. Santiago is a cinematic wonder, an irreplaceable masterclass in cinema. When the director states (or rather confesses) why he never uses close-ups of his protagonist’s face, the precise meaning of this staging is revealed. Deleuze used to say shots represent the consciousness of a director and no other film I know embodies that abstract, yet palpable statement better than Santiago, which is moving in its warning about how difcult it is to imagine the lives of others. (Roger Koza)

  • Santiago Badariotti Merlo
  • João Moreira Salles
  • Walter Cavalho
  • Jorge Saldanha
  • Eduardo Escorel
  • Lívia Serpa
Videoflmes Produçoes Artísticas
Videoflmes Produçoes Artísticas
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