If this movie does not make you want to visit Brazil, then nothing will.
For anyone interested in Brazilian culture, Black Orpheus, the 1959 Academy Award winning film by Marcel Camus, is a must see. The beauty of Rio de Janeiro during Carnaval is evident throughout the film. Antonio Carlos Jobim (The Girl From Ipanema), Brazil’s well-known samba composer produced the soundtrack. I have the soundtrack on my Ipod and listen to it whenever I fly to Rio.
Enjoy the movie:
Orpheus singing Manha de Carnaval (Carnival Morning):
The famous movie ending with the boys dancing with the little girl:
It has been a long time since Michael Jackson filmed this video in Rio de Janeiro. His song explored the injustices of the world. Some people did not approve of the strong lyrics. As always, the King was defiant.
“The idea that these lyrics could be deemed objectionable is extremely hurtful to me, and misleading. The song in fact is about the pain of prejudice and hate and is a way to draw attention to social and political problems. I am the voice of the accused and the attacked. I am the voice of everyone. I am the skinhead, I am the Jew, I am the black man, I am the white man. I am not the one who was attacking. It is about the injustices to young people and how the system can wrongfully accuse them. I am angry and outraged that I could be so misinterpreted.”
After arresting Nem, the drug kingpin/guardian of Rochina, the largest favela in Rio de Janiero, the police conducted a full-scale invasion of the area on Sunday morning. Favelas have existed since the emancipation of slaves in 1888 as sites where the poor live in a quasi-legal status as squatters. It seems that the upcoming World Cup and Olympic Games may be the impetus driving officials to assert authority over these areas for the first time. One does have to wonder what will become of the desperate poor who have never enjoyed real equality.
More to come later…
When in Rio, you will notice the radios blasting a type of hip-hop/techno music accompanied with rap lyrics. This musical style is the latest in Brazilian funk music. In general, funk is any music style related to American R and B or soul music. Brazilians gave it the name funk because it became popular, in the 70s and 80s, at a time when funk music was popular in America, especially with African Americans. However, Rio’s funk scene should not be compared to George Clinton and other American funksters. Today, funk music is enjoyed throughout Rio but has a close association with the favelas, or ghettos of Rio.
The songs are quite often very explicit about sexuality, drugs, violence, but also chronicle life in the favelas. In reality, funk is not just music but an urban lifestyle.
Here is a popular TV show where many of Rio’s funk stars perform:
VM is the traditional red-light district in Rio de Janiero. For decades, locals have gone to the VM district, on the north side of town, to find enjoyment. Few tourist go into VM as the location is near a large favela (ghetto).
However, apparently there is little to no crime or violence inside the VM district, itself, because security is swift to take care of troublemakers. That said, getting to the VM area is not easy to discern and a wrong turn could send one walking into the favela!
Here is a Brazilian news documentary from 1989 that portrays VM as a diverse, working class neighborhood. Fairly interesting:
The favelas, or ghettos, of Rio de Janeiro are almost countries within a country. Take a look at this BBC news program that provides a special look at the favelas where gangs are a paramilitary threat to the police. Rio has to deal with this problem before the Olympics of 2016!