Monday, 16 August 2010

Ah, how marvellous and reasonable it would be! A Woman for Everyone (Rogério Sganzerla 1969)

After catching Bruno Safadi and Noa Bressane’s appetite whetting doc about the short lived mondo-avant garde production house Belair at ERA New Horizons last month, I have been struggling to get my hands on any of the alt Cinema-Novo pieces the film looks into. An aptly degraded torrent of A Mulher de Todos (A Woman for Everyone) seemed like a good place to start. Rogério Sganzerla’s 1969 film is not a Belair production, but can be seen as one of the formative works that led Sganzerla and fellow director Julio Bressane to join forces and create the company. Indeed, its very success appears to have helped fund the experimental, and politically daring venture (more on Belair films here).

A broad, often downright dirty exemplar of comic book eroticism, AMDT comes across like a red-light Pierrot le fou. The film is impudent, very funny and radical in a way that never distracts from its populist ethos. It follows the adventures (the term seems right here) of ‘Angela: flesh and bone’, the liberated blonde of easy virtue who begins the film by dedicating her charms to the ignorant (see picture). She heads to ‘Pleasure Island’, a place that invites “all the neurotics, Macumbeiros [devotees of the Umbanda religion], McCartyists, [the] ragged, [the] available, [the] impossible, boxers, [the] crippled, wizards, [the] voracious, troglodytes, hacks, nurses, U.N.D party members [?], hitmen, secretaries, maids, taxidermists, Pietists, castaways, rats, big breasted women, big ass women, Aztecs, [the] weak, fat legged women, the boring, hobblers, sluts, informants, the ultra retarded repressed crippled from Sao Paulo.” As you can imagine, it’s quite an island.

Rather than say anything more, I’d like to offer some choice quotes from a contemporaneous text by the filmmaker, found in the book Brazilian Cinema by Randal Johnson and Robert Stam:

Fortunately, or unfortunately, A Mulher de Todos is more intelligent than the critics, a sin not easily forgiven. Nevertheless nothing is easier than making films more intelligent than their critics.


I will never deliver clear ideas, eloquent speeches or classically beautiful images when confronted with garbage – I will only reveal, through free sound and funereal rhythm , our own position as ill-behaved colonised people. Within the garbage can, one must be radical. Whence my love for Brazilian cinema as it is, poorly made, pretentious, and without redeeming esthetic illusions.


I continue to make an underdeveloped cinema, both by condition and vocation, a barbarous indigenous cinema, anticultralist, striving for that toward which the Brazilian people have been aspiring since the days of the chanchada – to make Brazilian cinema the worst in the world. Ah, how marvellous and reasonable it would be!

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