Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project: Our Review of ‘Pixote’

Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project: Our Review of ‘Pixote’

Society sees children as full of potential, and that sometimes feels true in some scenes Pixote. Pixote a film about the juvenile prison system in 1980s Brazil. The titular character (Fernando Ramos da Silva) watches a fellow inmate perform for everyone during visiting day. His grandfather, then, suggests that he can be a singer. He shoots that suggestions down, telling his grandfather that he cannot sing. That conversation is indicative of psychological states of children like him. They do not see the potential in themselves. But that does not mean that their survival instincts are down. The people running the jail (Jardel Folho and Rubens de Falco) are beginning to kill the children off one by one, either through disease or by gun. They are either going to wait until their sentences are up or do something drastic before their wardens start to put targets on them.

The film has its share of adorable actors comprising the younger members of the cast. Their presence makes us root for them and their survival. There is also a part of us saying that we do not need to root for them, since they are not passive characters. They are trying to live in what is basically a time capsule, a prison where escape is possible. It also breathtakingly depicts their escape from prison. The first film critics who saw this film described its documentary style. This does not make sense with the documentary aesthetic both then and now. The subject matter is raw, but there is a lot of control in the direction. Adapting Jose Louzeiro’s novel, Hector Babenco and Jose Duran makes life’s messes literary. And Babenco’s direction stays with Pixote and the group, and there’s tension in how they will deal with their problems together.

Most of those first critics who saw the film loved it except for one who called Fernando Ramos da Silva’s acting inexpressive. That is untrue. The prison scenes show how he commands the space even as a child. And there is a glue sniffing scene that shows his instincts and a haunting maturity. He also holds his own in scenes where he must be around adults, like a sex worker, Sueli (Marilla Pera) who takes him in. Pixote’s encounters with adults are particularly interesting. That’s because they are trying to shame him for his rags or for being a child in a world where no one wants one. Everyone is acting here is top notch, bringing out the realism in the screenplay. Discovering da Silva’s murder is another reminder of that realism. As cruel as it can be, real life has its place on screens big or small.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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