Urban version of ‘Grande Sertão: Veredas’ takes rap to the universe of Guimarães Rosa

Partners on screens and stages for at least 30 years, Jorge Furtado and Guel Arraes begin filming the movie version of “Grande Sertão: Veredas” within a month, as reported during the interview given this Monday (20) to Roda Viva, from TV Cultura. Guimarães Rosa’s plot will be transposed to the context of urban warfare centered on the favelas, through a community named precisely as Grande Sertão.

Furtado and Arraes were on the Cultura program to talk about “O Debate”, a book that simulates a supposed debate between Lula and Jair Bolsonaro on the eve of a hypothetical run-off in October 2022. But they have already provided more details about “Grande Sertão”, that should have been filmed last year, but the set was pushed back by the pandemic.

According to Arraes, the two always thought of dealing with urban violence from a multiple point of view, even including the criminal’s gaze. “The ‘City of God’ is the point of view of the favela. The ‘Elite Squad’ takes the police’s point of view. We wanted a story that also had the bandit’s point of view, but it’s hard to think about it in a way that doesn’t seem to be defending the bandit,” said the Pernambuco native.

At the same time, the two have been thinking for a long time about adapting “Grande Sertão” to the screen, and one project married the other when Heitor Dália presented them with the opportunity to take Guimarães Rosa’s book to cinemas. “Heitor had the possibility of having the rights to the book and offered it to us”, reported Arraes.

“The ‘Grande Sertão: Veredas’ is, in the opinion of many people, and in mine too, the greatest book ever written in the Portuguese language”, said Furtado. “The wisdom of that book doesn’t end. Anyone who manages to go beyond the beginning and immerse themselves in the language of that book will never get rid of it”, he warned, hoping that the film will lead many people to devour the work.

The most arduous task of this transposition is to preserve the poetics and language of Guimarães Rosa, “which is absolutely enchanting”, affirmed Arraes. The film’s favela will not be a realistic community, he anticipated.

Although the plot is based on the perception that “the periphery is discovered as a true center”, the community is not a realistic periphery, “the idea was to create a universe where this prosody with an operatic tone from Guimarães would fit”, said Arraes.

“It’s an almost dystopian, gigantic favela, surrounded by a large wall, which starts from the real, but derealizes”, he adds, “so that this language fits in the film and so that this urban war can be seen as an Iliad”, he adds.

“And then we thought about dealing with urban warfare, which Guimarães did with the jagunços in a way, but who are much more cangaceiros than jagunços, and instead of a sociological treatment, a political essay, he made a drama epic, which is, in a way, about Brazilian violence, about the country that is considered cordial, which we know it is not”, said Arraes. “He did it by transcending: instead of saying it’s a slippery, slippery war, it’s equivalent to a Trojan war, an American Civil War.”

For Furtado, the language of the communities already rules the word of adaptation. “From so much reading, I know many pieces by heart, it’s a business that gets that poem in your head, but when it comes to researching and writing, Guel and I visited a lot of websites about crimes, factions, and especially the comments people made , the phrases, they really look like Guimarães”, comments the Gaucho. “It’s amazing how the language keeps being reinvented, we mixed some very current things, I myself don’t know what Guimarães is and what it isn’t anymore”, he warns.

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