Period piece about a Brazil that is no more. This movie is the sequel to 'God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun' (Deus e o diabo na terra do sol), and takes place 29 years after Antonio das Mortes killed Corisco (the "Blond Devil"), last of the Cangaceiros. In 'the old days', Antonio's function in life was exterminate these bandits, on account of his personal grudges against them. His life had been meaningless for the last 29 years, but now, a new challenge awaits him. When a Cangaceiro appears in Jardim Das Piranhas, the local land Baron (Jofre Soares), an old man, does what seems obvious to him: he calls Antonio das Mortes, killer of Cangaceiros. At first, Antonio is ecstatic. His life has gained new meaning. But soon it becomes obvious that this new Cangaceiro (named Coirana) is no Corisco, but an idealist. An idealist of the sixties in the garb of the forties. A leader to the hopeless and the nunyry. Antonio das Mortes begins to reconsider his feelings towards Coirana and his followers.
The Good, The Bad & The Dreary
- Antonio Das Mortes review by Count Otto Black
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This quasi-sequel to "Black God, White Devil" forgets all about the two main protagonists in that film, the hopelessly confused hero and his long-suffering wife, concentrating instead on a supporting character, the glum, tubby assassin Antonio. Although 29 years have passed between movies, this lugubrious nihilist has apparently spent the whole time sitting in a bar whining about what a bad man he is, though on the bright side, his failure to move on has rendered him immune to the aging process, something which also applies to his clothes. Called upon to get rid of a new bandit who looks and dresses exactly like his old enemy Corisco, and when we first see him, is pretending to be Corisco in a piece of street theatre, naturally Antonio jumps at the chance, only to belatedly find out that he was wrong, and must therefore try to put things right by doing what he does best - killing the bad guys.
If you think this sounds exciting, you're sadly mistaken. As in the previous film, almost every shot goes on far too long, starting with the death agonies of the nameless fellow who pops his clogs during the opening credits, which are so protracted that they turn into unintentional comedy. He's also the first of many terrible actors we'll encounter. Just as in the first movie, almost the only times it really comes alive are the scenes in which local extras exuberantly perform religious rites or hold festivities, ignoring the camera and basically just being themselves. The actors, in contrast, mostly declaim long, deeply symbolic monologues in flat droning voices while staring vacantly into the distance, or sometimes straight at the camera, which their characters seem to be aware of.
The whole film is like this. The camera is so static that sometimes it appears as if the cameraman's idea of doing his job was to switch it on and go for a drink, and the actors wander very slowly towards or past it, sometimes for the entire length of a ridiculous folk-song being sung on the soundtrack. Occasionally the characters will stop everything (including dying) and sing a song themselves straight to the camera while the rest of the cast sit around looking bored and miserable. And the lengthy sort-of-erotic sequence involving one woman, two men, and a dead body more closely resembles a Pythonesque parody of a pretentious foreign arthouse movie c. 1970 than a perfectly serious scene in a real movie of that type.
The ambitious though amateurishly staged gunfight at the end, along with the opening credits and the hero's appearance, suggest that this film was trying to be a spaghetti western all along. Unfortunately, for 90% of its running time it's a deeply pretentious, painfully slow mystery play with political overtones. In other words, another dull slab of overrated "world cinema" that the critics love because it's from Brazil and it's terribly, terribly meaningful, but everybody else will be as bored as the actors seem to be. On the plus side, the extras are clearly having fun, and some of the scenery's nice.