The Given Word



Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

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847 MB
Portuguese 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 31 min
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1.53 GB
Portuguese 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 31 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Bento_de_Espinosa10 / 10

A must see movie!

A shame such an important movie has no poster here on IMDb. I wanted to add the one that is used on Wikipedia, but I would have to pay to do that. Strange.

Anyway, if you are critical of religion fanaticism, then you must see this movie! It shows what can become of fanatic people, how lack of education plays an important role in it, the arrogance of the church and the hypocrisy of our society.

Zé do Burro (Joe of the Donkey) has a soul of a child. He is a good guy, but extremely naive at the same time. His naivety is shamelessly exploited and people cruelly distort his good intentions, making an evil person out of him, when all he wanted was to do good.

The movie won the Golden Palm in Cannes and other prizes. It's a classic. Dialogs are a bit theatrical (only if you understand Portuguese),but so they used to be that time. A movie that will get under your skin.

Reviewed by debblyst7 / 10

Forget about the Golden Palm and you'll be able to enjoy it

Poor, simple peasant farmer Zé do Burro (Leonardo Villar, in a rock-solid performance) and his wife Rosa (Glória Menezes, appropriately unglamorous) leave their small cropland in the back country of Bahia. Zé is lugging a huge wooden cross on his shoulders under rain and shine to place it in the altar of St. Barbara's church in Salvador, 42 km away, as an offering for the miraculous healing of his ailing donkey. But the local priest (Dionísio Azevedo, blunt and one-dimensional) won't let Zé in when he learns the promise of the offering was made to an image of Iansã, a Candomblé goddess who is "analogous" to the Catholics' St. Barbara in Brazilian religious syncretism. Zé won't give up his promise and the conflict is set, with public commotion, opportunists on the spot and tragedy in the air.

"O Pagador de Promessas" was based on a hit play of the same title, written by famous leftist author Dias Gomes (who didn't want big-movie-star-but-little-experienced-director Anselmo Duarte to direct the screen version). Duarte ultimately got the rights, and he made a faithful adaptation — so faithful in fact that the film looks and sounds stagy, though the restless mob of onlookers to the events on the church's imposing stairway gives the film a welcome "open air" feel.

The story is the fight for the beliefs of an individual -- Zé, who's the only "good guy" in the movie -- against fierce opposition from "bad guys": Catholic priests (who are arch villains here),the media (the press and TV),the police, political interests (there is an offer for Zé to support a congressman in an upcoming election) and the opportunists who seek to take advantage of the situation: the pimp Bonitão, the journalist played by Othon Bastos, the popular poet Dedé, the bar owner, and even Zé's own wife Rosa, who's later torn with remorse. Zé's firmness — or stubbornness — is nowadays naively monolithic, but bold themes were addressed here: Catholicism vs Candomblé, Catholic Church power vs Catholic principles, private property vs land-sharing...

(Contrary to one IMDb reviewer, though, the film was NOT chopped by censorship because of religious issues — it wasn't censored at all).

The contrived subplot — Rosa's fling with pimp Bonitão (Geraldo del Rey, stiff but handsome) and her dispute with prostitute Marly (sexy Norma Bengell in a star-making role, with a great sneering scene near the end) -- is digressing rather than enriching. There is some nice camera-work by British D.P. Chick Fowle, but it's more stylish than organic. The best moments are the Candomblé ceremony at the very beginning and the dazzling Capoeira fights: the music is so hypnotic and the movements so serpentinely athletic that the film momentarily becomes electrifying.

"Pagador..." was Oscar-nominated for Best Foreign Film (it lost to Serge Bourguignon's cult "Dimanches de Ville d'Avray") and — to everyone's wild astonishment -- won the Golden Palm at Cannes in 1962 against formidable competition: Buñuel's "Exterminating Angel", Antonioni's "L'Eclisse", Germi's "Divorzio all'Italiana", Clayton's "The Innocents", Bresson's "Procès de Jeanne d'Arc", Cacoyannis' "Elektra", Tony Richardson's "Taste of Honey", Lumet's "Long Day's Journey...", Varda's "Cléo de 5 à 7", Satyajit Ray's "Devi"...WOW!! And remember François Truffaut himself was in the jury!.

My bet is that, THROUGH "Pagador...", Cannes recognized some important issues at the time: a) the "free portion" of Latin America, as Brazil was then one of the few Latin American countries that had overcome a dictatorship (by Getúlio Vargas),and established a "stable" democracy with free elections; b) Brazil was then run by center- leftist President João Goulart (who would be deposed by a military coup 2 years later) who was making serious talk about Agrarian Reform, one of the film's themes and one of Latin America's central issues; c) the anticlerical, rebellious, independent, truth-searching sentiment attributed to "the ordinary man," the "peasant"; d) Brazil itself, who was definitely fashionable then, because of the Bossa Nova explosion, the international deification of soccer hero Pelé, the construction of Brazil's new capital Brasília regarded as a new architectural wonder, the huge success of 1959 Golden Palm and Oscar- winner French film "Black Orpheus" shot in Brazil in Portuguese and featuring Rio's Carnival, etc).

"Pagador..." has undeniable assets, but it was already conservative and predictable in 1962. Contrary to what another reviewer here at IMDb wrote, it was NOT part of the Cinema Novo (Brazilian New Wave) movement; in fact Anselmo Duarte was always rejected by the Cinema Novo filmmakers (especially by Glauber Rocha) because he had come from the very studio system ideology (Vera Cruz and Atlântida) against which they were fighting. And though "Pagador..." followed three of the main dogmas of Italian Neo-Realism that were also adopted by Cinema Novo — shooting on location/use of non-professional actors (though only in bit roles here)/"ordinary people with ordinary problems" as theme — we're aware the whole time we're watching carefully staged scenes where improvisation, boldness and experimentalism remain alien.

Anselmo Duarte will forever be inscribed in Brazilian film history as THE filmmaker who brought to Brazil its only Cannes Golden Palm. But 45 years later, it's only fair to admit that time hasn't been so kind to it. If you don't raise your expectations too much, if you forget that this one won a Golden Palm over several international (some of them immortal) masterpieces, you'll watch a decent story, never boring, honestly told.

NOTE: "Pagador..." remains to this day the ONLY Latin-American film EVER to win the Cannes top prize since 1947, which says a lot about Cannes' ethnocentrism. Some eloquent numbers: as of 2006, Cannes' top prize films have come from Europe 43 times, against 15 from the US; 6 from Asia; and 1 each from Latin America, Africa and Oceania. Although the artistic supremacy of European cinema in the 20th century is undisputed, the proportion is highly debatable.

Reviewed by Bunuel19769 / 10

THE GIVEN WORD (Anselmo Duarte, 1962) ***1/2

This Brazilian religious satirical drama emerged the surprise "Palme D'Or" winner at the Cannes Film Festival over such heavyweight contenders as ADVISE AND CONSENT, DIVORCE – Italian STYLE, THE GODDESS, L'ECLISSE, THE INNOCENTS, MONDO CANE, THE TRIAL OF JOAN OF ARC and THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL! As can be seen from that list, there were a number of other acerbic and/or spiritually-themed movies, which makes its selection for the Grand Prize all the more amazing and remarkable (but, in the long run, certainly not unjust)!; it was also up for the Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar but lost out to the equally heart-felt SUNDAYS AND CYBELE. In hindsight, this is undoubtedly one of the unsung masterpieces of World Cinema which, in spite of the acclaim which clearly met its original release, has fallen through the cracks over the years: I, for one, was unfamiliar with both film and director (even if a number of vintage Brazilian efforts occasionally crop up on late-night Italian TV).

Anyway, the film begins with a man carrying a life-size cross across country (often battling the elements) with his wife in tow; I expected the story to unfold in flashback so that we come to learn why he was doing his – but, actually, we follow his often incredible vicissitudes once he reaches his destination. In fact, he had promised Saint Barbara to make this sacrifice (which invariably leaves him bruised, exhausted and eventually hungry) if she healed his wounded and extremely devoted donkey – amusingly, it takes some time before we actually realize he is doing all this for the sake of an animal! What starts out as a harmless eccentricity is soon turned into a circus a' la Billy Wilder's ACE IN THE HOLE (1951) and leads, inevitably to tragedy. First off, the couple arrive in the middle of the night so that they find the church closed. Soon, they are approached by a man who, being a pimp (seen beating up his 'lover' for the miserly night's takings!),we know he is up to no good and that his offer of a helping hand can only have selfish ends (specifically his intentions over the newly-arrived, attractive-looking and obviously gullible woman); indeed, he persuades her to spend the night at a hotel nearby, while her husband sleeps off his fatigue on the damp church-steps!

The next morning, people gather for mass but the man is still resting there; the parish priest is naturally curious of his presence and interrogates him as soon as he wakes up. However, the latter proves an unswerving obstacle to the fulfillment of the all-important promise once the poor and naïve outsider mentions the word "candomble'" (a form of local witchcraft)!; incidentally, the film is preceded by a prologue in French explaining this phenomenon (which, it is said, was often deceptively performed in the name of official saints of the Catholic Church!). Still, the man is so honest that he is adamant in accomplishing his task – also because he fears that, if he does not, and simply goes back home his donkey will have a relapse (by the way, the animal is mentioned so often throughout that one wishes we had been able to see it, even if only in a photo or something…though, of course, I understand that it was merely used here as a symbol)!

Gradually, all kinds of people begin to converge upon the scene: notably a bar-keeper across the street who relishes the consequent influx of 'traffic' in his establishment, a couple of photo-journalists who arrive to conduct an interview and take pictures (only to blow the incident so out of proportion as to land the hierarchy of the Church and, eventually, the Police onto them!),a sneaky poet peddling his gift for verse on the street for his own political ends, an obese black lady into the propagation of Paganism who constantly invites (tempts?) our involuntary martyr-hero to offer his cross at the altar of her false god and, of course, the pimp still after the girl (whose presence his own 'fount of income' will not take sitting down and, sure enough, the two women are soon at each other's throat in full view of the crowd, ever-ready to lap up an out-of-the-ordinary occurrence!). Another fault the priest finds in our protagonist is that, by opting to carry a cross, he has put himself up to the level of Christ – which the journalists are all-too-ready to exploit and, lo and behold, he is being played up as a crusader for the common people, asked rhetorical questions about Mankind's future and even expected to perform miracles on infirm locals!

As is the Brazilian trademark, the church-steps eventually become the venue for ritualistic folk dancing but, with the appearance of the Police (brought in by the pimp when he realizes the woman has slipped from his grasp – incidentally, her husband tolerates the affair for the time being but warns her she will have to answer for her conduct on their way back!),the situation soon gets out-of-hand, escalates into a riot, pistol-shots are fired, and our hero drops dead on the spot! When they see this, the locals take it upon themselves to have him keep his word regardless: they tie him to the cross and, using it as a battering ram (which he had earlier attempted himself in desperation),manage to get them inside the church. As the crowds follow or else disperse, the man's wife is left all alone...

Strikingly made and persuasively acted, THE GIVEN WORD is really one of the most potent religious parables ever...and I cannot help wondering whether Bresson and Bunuel – two of my favorite film-makers and among cinema's greatest purveyors of Spirituality – had the opportunity to watch it back then and, if so, what their opinions may have been like (perchance the former was inspired by this for his own Christian allegory built around a suffering donkey i.e. BALTHASAR {1966}!!).

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