|Black God, White Devil|
|Directed by||Glauber Rocha|
|Written by||Glauber Rocha|
|Produced by||Luiz Augusto Mendes|
|Starring||Geraldo Del Rey|
|Edited by||Glauber Rocha|
Rafael Justo Valverde
|Music by||Sérgio Ricardo|
|Distributed by||Herbert Richers|
Black God, White Devil (Portuguese: Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol; literally, God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun) is a 1964 Brazilian film directed and written by Glauber Rocha. The film stars Othon Bastos, Maurício do Valle, Yoná Magalhães, and Geraldo Del Rey. It belongs to the Cinema Novo movement, addressing the socio-political problems of 1960s Brazil. The film was released on DVD in North America for the first time by Koch-Lorber Films.
The film starts in the 1940s, during another drought in the sertão, when ranch hand Manoel (Geraldo Del Rey) is fed up with his situation and hopes to buy his own plot of land. His boss tries to cheat him of his earnings and Manoel kills him, fleeing with his wife, Rosa (Yoná Magalhães). Now an outlaw, Manoel travels to the holy site of Monte Santo to join up with a religious cult headed by the self-proclaimed saint Sebastião who condones violence (at one point slaughtering a baby) and preaches disturbing doctrines against the wealthy landowners. All the while, the church and local elites hire a bounty hunter by the name of Antônio das Mortes to take out the group. Before Antônio is able to assassinate Sebastião, Rosa stabs Sebastião, leaving him dead and the two are on the move once again. At this point, the couple end up with a band of cangaceiros also working to take down the government and bosses of the sertão. Antônio is now tasked with assassinating these bandits. He finds head cangaceiros Corisco and Dadá and murders them, leaving Manoel and Rosa alone all again.
And so it goes, the two running from one allegiance to another, following the words of others as they attempt to find a place in their ruthless land. Blending mysticism, religion, and popular culture in this symbolic and realistic drama, Rocha insists that rather than follow the external and obscure dogmas of culture and religion, man must determine his path by his own voice.
Glauber Rocha was 25 years old when he wrote and began to direct the film.
Its filming took place on Monte Santo and Canudos, Bahia lasting from June 18, 1963 to September 2, 1963.
In the scene where we see Manoel (Geraldo Del Rey) carrying a huge stone over his head while climbing Monte Santo on his knees, Del Rey insisted on carrying a real stone that weighted over 20 kilos - something that worried Rocha. After the shooting, Del Rey had to take 2 days off, due to fatigue.
During the dubbing of the sound, Othon Bastos performed three voices. Besides dubbing himself as Corisco, he performed the voice for Lampião (whom Corisco had "incorporated") and also dubbed Sebastião, the black God, even though Lídio Silva played the character on screen.
Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 100%, based on 12 reviews, with a rating average of 8.5/10.
A. H. Weiler from The New York Times praised the film, calling it "Simple, black-and-white, more arresting as a shocking polemic than as memorable drama." Ted Shen from The Chicago Reader wrote, "The fusion of European and Afro-Brazilian elements--dialogue, exquisite black-and-white images, and music by Villa-Lobos--is startlingly original and poetical in conveying the hope and despair of the oppressed." Time Out Magazine praised the film's style as being "somewhere between folk ballad and contemporary myth, since the references to Brazilian history and culture are pervasive and fairly opaque to the uninitiated".
The film was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival, but failed to win. It was also selected as the Brazilian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 37th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee. In 2015 it was voted number 2 on the Abraccine Top 100 Brazilian films list.