The Favorite Movie Period/Place Meme

By Marilyn Ferdinand

A few days ago, Daniel Getahun at the glorious blog Getafilm challenged me and several other bloggers to come up with a post for a meme he dreamed up. We were to choose a place (real or imaginary) and a time (past, present, or future) depicted in one or more films that we’d most like to visit and explain why. Here is what I chose.

Place: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Time/Period: 1959
As Seen In: Bossa Nova (2000)

This movie is a bit of a cheat as a representative of the period I’ve chosen. It actually takes place in 2000, but the director, Bruno Barreto, meant it to be an homage to the Rio of Antonio Carlos Jobim, a sun-filled, lively boulevard of music and magic. Whether that place ever existed outside of a travel brochure, there is a place in my heart that fervently hopes that it did and that I could drop in at will.

Rio, of course, is graced with natural beauty even today. Its gorgeous white beaches and the creatures who inhabit them inspired the bossa nova classic “The Girl from Ipanema.” In 1959, bossa nova music was breaking through in Brazilian society:

The bossa nova appeared in Rio de Janeiro in the late 1950’s. At first it was played as an intimate music in the apartments of Rio’s middle and upper-middle classes. The music mingled the Brazilian samba beat with American jazz. Later on, bossa nova became a trademark of a new concept of music – a little sad, sometimes sung off-key, and where the lyrics have great importance.

The roots of cinema novo were sprouting, producing exciting films that were giving the French New Wave a run for its money, combining real people and locations with the Brazilian Tropicalism movement that rejected European influences—particularly sexual inhibitions.

In Bossa Nova, the colors are bright, the sea is inviting, the beaches are pristine places to walk and play, the men are passionate and romantic, the women are assertive and comfortable with their sexuality, and everyone seems to be drunk with the love of life. A palpable nostalgia echoes with the strains of the sad, minor-key bossa nova, as Brazil stood poised to move into a socially progressive era that would be suppressed by dictatorship in only a few short years. 1959 was that perfect moment, the carefree pause between the inhale and exhale of history. That’s where I want to be.

For more about Brazilian history and culture:
Travel Pulse
South Travels

As usual, I’ll forgo tagging anyone. If you want to do this anyway, link back to Getafilm.

  • Daniel spoke:
    29th/05/2009 to 1:13 pm

    Thanks, Marilyn. Brazil has always been a place near the top of my list to visit, though the opportunity has never presented itself well enough. As such, movies are the next best thing. Last year I saw City of Men, Manda Bala, and Mutum, all three of which portrayed very different parts of the country.
    Another movie that you might enjoy – The Year My Parents Went on Vacation, a coming-of-age story during the political turmoil in Sao Paolo in the early 70’s. It was a bit of an unheralded movie last year.
    Anyway, I have not seen Bossa Nova but I was thrown off a bit by the trailer. I feel like there is almost never a female voiceover in trailers.
    Thanks for playing along and re-stoking my desire to go to that country – I can’t say you could have captured the spirit of this meme any better!

  • Marilyn spoke:
    29th/05/2009 to 1:59 pm

    My second choice was the New York City in Harold Lloyd’s Speedy! There’s a great scene of him at Coney Island in all its glory and independent, horse-drawn streetcars in their final days. I just think the things in that movie were really fascinating. Ultimately, though, my heart belongs to tropical paradises wherever they are.
    You’re right, I don’t think I can remember another trailer with a female narrator. This is unabashedly a chick flick, so maybe that had something to do with it. Or maybe the Brazilian production doesn’t play by Hollywood rules.

  • gmoke spoke:
    3rd/06/2009 to 6:06 pm

    I like the elevator scene where the male protagonist measures the back of his love interest with his spread fingers, not touching her, in order to make her a blouse, a talent he learned from his father, the tailor.
    There is also the sadness of his brother when his love object decides to go for the soccer player instead.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    3rd/06/2009 to 6:38 pm

    I love that elevator scene so much.

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