Behind the Sun

Behind the Sun (Abril Despedacado) was a thought-provoking and captivating work of art by Walter Salles, Sergio Machado and Karim Ainouz; who collaboratively derived the story from an Albanian book (Broken April by Ismail Kadare). Behind the Sun was set in 1910 in the Northeast region of Brazil. The movie unfolds with this line, “This is the story of me, my brother, and a shirt in the wind… ” The line was narrated by a charming young boy, Pacu (Ravi Ramos Lacerda). He comes from a family of peasants, who grows sugarcane for a living.

Pacu’s oldest brother had just been murdered at the beginning of the movie. The setting was miserable, to say the least. The opening of the movie only matched this misery in the setting by showing a gory sight of a blood-stained shirt. The shirt belonged to Pacu’s oldest brother, who was then the latest victim in their family’s feud with the Ferreiras family. The two families had been warring over land and territorial issues. Tradition dictates that the Breves family should avenge the death of their family member, but not long before the stain has turned from red to yellow.

“When the blood on the shirt turns yellow, someone will die,” Pacu narrated further. The surviving eldest son of the Breves family, Tonio (Rodrigo Santaro), did what he had to do, according to their tradition — he killed the eldest son of the Ferreiras family. Tonio felt that the vicious cycle of killing and revenge, disguising as a noble tradition, had to end; but he felt powerless to end it, so he allowed it to continue by killing the eldest son in the other family. As a result, he was next in line to be killed.
But the charming and much too adorable boy, Pacu, had a way of keeping Tonio alive. Pacu died for Tonio. He knew at a tender age that sacrifice, an act of love, was the key to end the vicious cycle that their family was caught in. In relation to Brazilian notions of ethnicity, the deep set often mysterious-looking eyes of the Breves brothers were captivating. Ironically, the softness of their looks couldn’t match with the ferocious tradition they keep. The film is a story about a strong family bond, so strong in fact, that one had to be prepared to die in revenge of the other.
Moreover, one was willing to die to let the other live and move on. The photography and sequence of shots in the movie are absolute astounding and even poetic in nature. It seemed that every beat of its music matched with every frame in the screen with grace and much respect to art. Their clothing was not far from imaginable, the family bonding was very plausible, considering how tight family bonding was (still is) in Brazil. If it were a movie set in this time and age, it wouldn’t have been plausible, with all the killings.
But it was in 1910, when a lot of things, like respect for life, have yet to be discovered. Certainly, the work of art from the sounds to the overall direction and cinematography helped in establishing the depth and heaviness of the movie. Truth be told, Hollywood cannot create movie that is as profound as this without resorting to much gimmickry. What Behind the Sun producers did that Hollywood won’t dare to try is to simply tell a tragic story in the most poetic way possible. It was a wonderful movie, overall. It was heavy in the mind, and it certainly will not be easy to forget.

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