The New Yorker

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The samba-centered, folkloric depiction of Black Brazilians popularize­d in “Black Orpheus,” in 1959, got a radical revision in Glauber Rocha’s first feature, “Barravento,” from 1962 (streaming, in a new restoratio­n, on Kanopy). The movie is set in a village on the coast of Bahia, where the residents, most of whom are Black, make a meagre living as fishermen employed by a white businessma­n. When a prodigal son, Firmino (Antonio Pitanga), returns home from the city, flaunting his flashy clothing and proclaimin­g his prosperity, he scorns his fellow-villagers’ Candomblé religion and encourages them to rise up against their exploiters. (He’s actually poor and fleeing arrest as a “subversive.”) But, when persuasion fails, Firmino relies on spells and curses to change their minds, and recruits a young woman named Cota (Luiza Maranhão), who loves him, to help. The drama of social conflict is nonetheles­s filled with scenes of traditiona­l music and dance, conjuring a deep-rooted vision of the villagers’ power of endurance based in the strength of their culture. Rocha’s aesthetic is informed by both political analyses and ecstatic rituals; he creates a homegrown art of revolution­ary mysticism.—Richard Brody

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