The tough thing about being an intrepid cinephile: you trawl and dig for lesser-known masterpieces of world cinema, watch them on subpar (sometimes sub-subpar) rips, and only five-or-so years later see them get a loving restoration. As is the case with their recent L’amour fou release and Ousmane Sembène retro, Janus are putting out Glauber Rocha’s Cinema Novo masterpiece Black God, White Devil in a 4K restoration that looks so good I can only envy anybody who sees it for the first time like so.
Ahead of its November 17 debut at Film Forum, a new trailer has arrived and, in terms often applicable to Glauber Rocha, “goes super-hard.” His brutal vision of Brazil, seen with the added clarity of Metropoles Productions’ restoration, suggests the ideal for these releases: elucidate a lost classic and herald a new entry in the canon. And if I can make suggestions: The Age of the Earth next, please.
Find preview and poster below:
Glauber Rochar’s sophomore feature is a scorched-earth allegory about the blind followers of dead-end ideologies. Somewhere in the Brazilian hinterlands of the 1940s, ranch hand Manoel (Geraldo Del Rey) becomes an outlaw after killing his swindling boss. He pledges allegiance to Sebastião (Lidio Silva), a self-styled holy man who preaches revolt against rich landowners even as he perpetrates unspeakable acts of violent zealotry against the innocent. While the landowners hire a mercenary (Maurício do Valle) to take out Sebastião, Manoel and his wife Rosa (Yoná Magalhães) join cangaceiros Corisco (Othon Bastos) and Dadá (Sonia Dos Humildes), only to find themselves once more in league with evil, deluded forces. Steeped in history, myth, religion, and politics, and suffused with the feverish intensity of the blistering desert, Black God, White Devil is one of the Cinema Novo movement’s most uncompromising statements on current social issues as well as the universal problem of mindless fanaticism.