Ass-less chaps and timeless wisdom at Cinebrasil


Cinebrasil is part of the Watson Institute’s Brazil Initiative

I went to Cinebrasil, Brown’s annual Brazilian film series, to enrich my understanding of foreign cultures and score participation points for my Intro to Portuguese class. The film they showed was Tatougem (translated to English, “tattoo”), a drama that follows a LGBTQ theater group called The Star Spangled Floor. The film is set in the 1970’s when Brazil was ruled under a military dictatorship.

Before the movie, a professor from the Portuguese and Brazilian Studies Department told the crowd that Brown has the largest collection of Brazilian films in the U.S. (woot woot). The professor then promised that the film would be a “steamy story of chaos and liberation.” As the lights dimmed, I made a baldfaced grab for the armrest before the guy sitting next to me could get to it. Boom. Ready to go.

I’m not going to summarize the plot for you, because Wikipedia can do that a lot better than I can. I’m just going to share with you some interesting aspects of the film.


“Resorting to sensuality, they did get some laughs.” —A newspaper quoted in the film, referring to the Star Spangled Floor (above)

If you want to see the sun and the moon get in a fight, watch Tatouagem. Towards the end of the film, two performers in the Star Spangled Floor—one painted silver like the moon, the other golden like the sun—start going at each other during a performance. Sun disses the moon for not being radiant, but Moon counters that he does not need to be because he just reflects the light of the sun. Sun then insults Moon’s ugly craters. Moon counters with, “Yeah, well at least I don’t have all of your disgusting eruptions!” That just about settles it.

In my beginners’ Portuguese class I’ve learned to say things like, “Hello! After breakfast in the morning I generally ride my bicycle rapidly to Portuguese class, but it’s Wednesday so the chalk is not joyful, no.” Unfortunately, the characters in the film rarely discussed their post-breakfast transportation habits or the disposition of writing implements, so I had to rely mostly on the subtitles.

If you’re looking for crazy Halloween costume ideas, Tatouagem is a great source to consult. One of the main characters makes a birdlike gas mask out of cardboard paper, wires, and egg cartons. The theater troupe displays its collection of realistic wolf masks during a mostly-nude performance of Little Red Riding Hood. Ass-less chaps were also popular. Asses themselves played a fairly large role in the film.

Tatouagem is chalk-full of priceless nuggets of wisdom. I learned that children can be born headless, transvestites make wonderful spouses, and most importantly of all, “the only possible utopia is the utopia of asses.”

The tattoo mentioned in the film’s title is a painful, homemade (read: made with a knife) tattoo that one character gets to prove his love for another character.

I left the Granoff Center totally confused about what I’d just watched, which is a sure sign that Tatouagem is a great film.

Cinebrasil continues tonight! Three films will be shown from from 4 to 9:30p.m. in the Granoff Center for the Creative Art’s Martinos Auditorium. Tickets are technically sold out, but you can probably still get in. And it’s free, so there’s really nothing to lose. 

Images via, via.




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