If the accolade ‘polymath’ can apply to someone who excels at a multitude of humanities and arts subjects, rather than just the sciences, then Glauber Rocha certainly was one. During his comparatively short but intensely influential career he tried his hand at everything from journalism and radical left politics to law, before finally settling on filmmaking after the critical recognition gained by his first short Pátio. He did also continue to write, and alongside his cinematic works he has left us with a wealth of poems, essays and aphorisms which describe his unique take on aesthetics and politics.
His films are often talked about by cinematic academics due to their alternative take on Italian neorealism and the French New Wave, but they are also held up as popular cultural icons by the Brazilians themselves, who voted Black God, White Devil as the best Brazilian film of all time. Foreign viewers, up until now, might have found it hard to track down his films but thankfully, the internet age and its multifaceted means of distribution have opened up his work to a wider audience. Rocha’s films tend to be the embodiment of various strands of his own interests – the literary, the artistic and the political – all drawn together to form rich tapestries buzzing with complex ideas and rich visual imagery.
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