Considerations on "Four Days in September", a film about Brazilian terrorism


I agree with you that Barreto's "4 Days" is a movie of very doubtful - to say the least - value. I think that Barreto made a vain effort to square the circle, that is to make a movie sympathetic to the terrorist armed struggle against the military dictatorship in Brazil - as virtually *nobody* in Brazil dares nowadays to defend the dictatorship as such, outside from some reformed militaries in the lunatic fringe afraid of Brazil being invaded by the Colombian ELN and/or the Shining Path - and, at the same time, to make it palatable to a Middle american public, even when it portrayed people that had kidnapped an American ambassador- an impossible task, as seem from, say, Hunter Watson's reaction on apst when a told the group about Fernando Gabeira being denied an entry visa in USA to attend the Academy Awards ceremony, although even the late ambassador Elbrick's daughter had made no objections about the Barreto movie being based on Gabeira's memoir - in fact, she was even a consultant to the movie. Barreto's "squaring" assumed the form of blaming both sides - torturers and tortured alike - by labeling both "authoritarians" and stuffing the script with cheap moralizing.

The film suffers, by the way, from a tremendous miscasting. since the 2 main roles- Gabeira & "Maria" (a character based on the young socialite turned terrorist Vera Bocayuva, who was Gabeira's lover) are played by Pedro Cardoso and Fernanda Montenegro, who are mainly situation comedy actors in Brazil - the same going to Luiz Fernando Guimar„es, who plays the role of Maria's aide. Fernanda Torres, BTW, is the daughter of Fernanda Montenegro, which you appreciated so much in "Central Station", and is also a good actress.The fact is that I do not agree with you in defending method acting- which Fernanda Montenegro, during a recent interview, spoke also against, on the grounds that its the actor's emotions and craftsmanship that define the role, and not material experience. I would add that Brando's Mark Anthony, for instance, in Frankenheimer's _Julius Caesar_ , is, above all, Brando. How could it be otherwise, BTW? How could an actor prepare materially to play a Roman statesman when there is no Roman Empire today.

But, much of the starngety of the movie comes from the fact that strange as it seems, it nonetheless retains a link with historical reality in the fact that the Brazilian underground of the 70s had no link whatsoever with the masses; they were mostly trying, in the absence of any possibility of mass actions, trying, narodnick-like, to "serve the people" by means of feats of arms. The main strategy of the film, from a marxist point of view, is that the characters do not act like marxists - which they, ultimately, weren't.

Carlos Rebello