OLHAR DE CINEMA 2017: DEATH’S LONG WAY BY JULIO CALASSO

This entry was posted on June 15th, 2017

By Mónica Delgado

To enter the universe of filmmaker Julio Calasso for the first time has not been an easy feat. Especially since his Death’s Long Way (Longo Caminho da Morte,  Brasil, 1971), presented in Olhar de Cinema, in the section Classics, in its remastered version, generates a series of questions towards the validity of some works, the reasons for their aging or the styles that were used in those years, above any inventive initiative or creative freedom.

Death’s Long Way is drawn from the allegoric figure, from ghostly characters that resemble a crazy Resnais, characters in cathartic state who are portrayed in a poetic or theatrical way. There’s hysteria, abstraction, craziness, shouts, in a film that describes the decadence of the rural oligarchy of Sao Paulo, in a game of anachronistic borders, with several jumps in time that tell the rural fable inside an urban and working class reality.

Calasso, one of the representatives of so called “Marginal Cinema” chose a distanced tone for its characters, all of them lost in their reflections, gone, centered in the figure of Orestes, a landowner in decline. The film opens in an anthological way, in a sequence of a wake and burial, to then realize several flashbacks and present the lead character, an apathetic anti-hero and axis of all the women that inhabit the residence. Calasso not only poses a look to the heart of this oligarchy, but also through their relation with the slaves and servants, something that looks strange 40 years later.

A different atmosphere (or at least an attempt) peeks in Death’s Long Way, from its premise of showing a decadent arcade to portray a social transformation, where the poor (outside the shot) are the ones who barely suffer. For Calasso richness generates evil, it perturbs, alienates and numbs. Orestes becomes the figure of a political and social period of change in Brazil, and Calasso submits him to a profile of “hamletian” borders, tragic even, towards death and loneliness. A time where the oligarchy becomes aware of its tragedy.

Director: Júlio Calasso
Script: Júlio Calasso
Producer: Renê Martins, Costa Filho
Editors: Júlio Calasso, Jovita Pereira Dias
Cast: Gésio Amadeu, Dionísio Azevedo, Othon Bastos
Brazil
1972