Santos, Nelson Pereira dos (1928–)

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Santos, Nelson Pereira dos (1928–)

Brazilian filmmaker Nelson Pereira dos Santos, best-known for his "generous presiding spirit" and for serving as the "conscience" of the country's Cinema Novo (New cinema) movement, was born on October 22, 1928, in São Paulo. His first feature films, Rio 40 Graus (1955; Rio 40 Degrees) and Rio Zona Norte (1957; Rio Northern Zone), which drew attention to the plight of poor urban dwellers, are considered stylistic and thematic precursors to the Cinema Novo movement. In contrast, his 1963 masterpiece, Vidas Secas (Barren Lives), an adaptation of the novel by Graciliano Ramos, shows the difficult conditions of rural Brazilian life in the sertão (Brazilian northeast desert). The film represents what fellow filmmaker Glauber Rocha would later call the estética da fome (esthetic of hunger), using a bare bones style of filming to reflect the dismal, barren condition of the characters. Although the story takes place from 1940 to 1942, many have observed that the film critiques the political and social problems of the 1960s. In 1971 he made Como era gostoso o meu francês (How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman), part of the Tropicália (Tropicalist) movement, which was followed by noteworthy films such as O Amuleto de Ogum (1974; The Amulet of Ogum) and Memórias do Cárcere (1984; Memories of prison). He has maintained a strong presence in the film community with more recent endeavors such as Raízes do Brasil (2004; The Roots of Brazil) and Brasília 18% (2006).


Johnson, Randal, and Robert Stam, eds. Brazilian Cinema, expanded ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.

                                          Stacy Lutsch

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Santos, Nelson Pereira dos (1928–)

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