Behind the Sun
Original film poster
Directed byWalter Salles
Written byKarim Aïnouz
Sérgio Machado
Walter Salles
João Moreira Salles
Daniela Thomas
Based onBroken April
by Ismail Kadare
Produced byArthur Cohn
StarringRodrigo Santoro
José Dumont
Rita Assemany
Edited byIsabelle Rathery
Music byEd Cortês
Antonio Pinto
Beto Villares
Distributed byLumiére Pictures (Brazil)[1]
Mars Distribution (France)[1]
Release dates
  • September 6, 2001 (2001-09-06) (Venice)
  • May 1, 2002 (2002-05-01) (Brazil)
Running time
105 minutes
Budget$4 million
Box officeR$2.063.956[2] ($928,037)

Behind the Sun (Portuguese: Abril Despedaçado) is a 2001 social drama film directed by Walter Salles, produced by Arthur Cohn, and starring Rodrigo Santoro. Its original Portuguese title means Shattered April, and it is based on the 1978 novel Broken April written by the Albanian writer Ismail Kadare, about the honor culture in the North of Albania.

Co-produced by Brazil, France, and Switzerland,[3][4] it was shot entirely in Bahia, taking place in Bom Sossego, a district of the city of Oliveira dos Brejinhos, and in the cities of Caetité and Rio de Contas.[5] The film was selected as the Brazilian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 74th Academy Awards, but it was not nominated.


The year is 1910; the place, the badlands of Northeast Region, Brazil. Twenty-year-old Tonho is the middle son of an impoverished farm family, the Breves. He is next in line to kill and then die in an ongoing blood feud with a neighboring clan, the Ferreiras. For generations, the two families have quarreled over land. Now they are locked into a series of tit-for-tat assassinations of their sons; an eye-for-an-eye, a tooth-for-a-tooth. Embedded in this choreography of death is a particular code of ethics: "Blood has the same volume for everyone. You have no right to take more blood than was taken from you." Life is suffused with a sense of futility and stoic despair.

Under pressure from his father, Tonho kills one of the Ferreira sons to avenge the murder of his older brother. This act marks him as the next victim. Tonho's younger brother is addressed only as "the Kid" by the family. Anticipating future loss, his parents don't give him a name. The Kid is an imaginative and loving child, whose spirit will not break in the face of harsh parenting, brutalizing isolation, and numbing poverty. The Kid's love encourages Tonho to question his fate. When Tonho meets Clara, a charming itinerant circus girl, all of life's possibilities open up for him.

The film is narrated by "The Kid" who is later given a name by Clara and her stepfather, the traveling circus performers. They call him "Pacu" and he spends the whole film narrating which ultimately drives the viewers to identify and allows the film to humanize the characters.

Later, Pacu and Tonho visit the circus in town, with Tonho forming a relationship with Clara. Clara later leaves her stepfather to be with Tonho, arriving at the farm to be with him. The two sleep together before she departs, telling Tonho to meet her in the east by the ocean. One of the Ferreira men come to the farm in order to exact revenge on the Breves, initially appearing to kill Tonho. However, it is revealed that they actually shot and killed Pacu, devastating the Breves.

The father tells Tonho to get the gun in order to kill all of the remaining Ferreiras in retaliation. Tonho, realizing that his life with his family is destroyed, walks off without a word. His father attempts to shoot him for disregarding the honor of their family, but he is stopped by the mother who insists that the feud no longer matters and that it's over. Tonho arrives on a beach, staring at the sea with an expression of melancholic wonder on his face.



Critical response

Behind the Sun has an approval rating of 74% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 46 reviews, and an average rating of 6.7/10. The website's critical consensus states: "Visually poetic, Behind the Sun is a powerful statement about cycles of violence.[6] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 73 out of 100, based on 19 critics, indicating "generaly favorable reviews".[7]

Awards and nominations

BAFTA Film Awards

Golden Globe Awards

Havana Film Festival

Venice Film Festival

See also


  1. ^ a b "Behind the Sun (2001)". UniFrance. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  2. ^ "Filmes Brasileiros Lançados - 1995 a 2012" (PDF) (in Portuguese). Ancine. p. 29. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 27, 2014. Retrieved May 24, 2014.
  3. ^ "Abril Despedaçado" (in Italian). Venice Biennale. Archived from the original on May 25, 2014. Retrieved May 24, 2014.
  4. ^ "Abril Despedaçado" (in Portuguese). Cinemateca Brasileira. Archived from the original on May 25, 2014. Retrieved May 24, 2014.
  5. ^ Arantes, Silvana (September 7, 2001). ""Abril Despedaçado" encanta mercado". Folha de S.Paulo (in Portuguese). Grupo Folha. Retrieved May 24, 2014.
  6. ^
  7. ^