In Macunaíma, cinema novo pioneer Joaquim Pedro de Andrade adapted a masterpiece of Brazilian modernism to reflect the simultaneous triumph of tropicalismo and onset of military dictatorship. Pure essence of 1969, the movie is a funny, freewheeling mélange of primitive myth and Busby Berkeley, hippie street theater and cabaret star Grande Otelo, glamorized urban guerrillas and documented candomblé rituals; it’s full of racial high jinks, with a free-floating cannibal metaphor applied most savagely to a capitalist ogre. Macunaíma was originally released here dubbed and cut as Jungle Freaks (and later floated as a post–El Topo midnight movie). It thereafter vanished from U.S. consciousness, but thanks to this restoration (and like the parallel avant-pop manifestation Os Mutantes) it seems poised to re-enter our history.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 28, 2004