As a Brazilian, I’ll be the first to say that I do not wholly embrace my culture; I really hate those “awesome street parties” – as most English-speaking people seem to call them – that we have during Carnaval and I don’t really listen to samba that much. In fact I barely ever listen to any traditional Brazilian music.
But this is not to say I don’t completely cherish my culture. I do like Carnaval; the actual parade, the part that isn’t a bunch of drunk men dressing up as women pissing all over the street, is one of the most amazing things in the world. I’ve never actually seen it live since it’s quite expensive to get a ticket, but I obsessively watch the floats on the TV.
And I absolutely love Rio de Janeiro, it’s one of the best places I’ve ever lived. So I was quite demanding of a film that promised to show the world how my favorite city in the world really is.
Whenever American films attempt to depict Brazil or Brazilians, they simply fail. Let me make it really clear: we are NOT in any way Spanish, we do not SOUND Spanish or act like Spanish people. We do not keep monkeys as pets nor do our gangsters kidnap tourists to steal their organs. Also, please, please STOP playing Girl from Ipanema whenever people go into elevators or start having sex in films; it’s actually an amazing song, not some track you can use to smooth out awkward situations.
But this movie depicts Rio perfectly. There are a couple of technicalities that were wrong because of how the plot is set up, but despite that it’s pretty right on. I was afraid it would be too stereotypical but it’s not.
Telling the story of Blu, the only male blue macaw left in the world, it exposes Rio and the kind of culture shock foreigners experience when visiting. This is probably why I liked it so much, there’s little else I enjoy more than showing Rio around to foreigners; I love their reactions to it and their appreciation of it.
Besides that, it really depicts Carnaval how it really is. Everyone can dance (okay, maybe apart from me), and everyone is out partying; and everyone has had those moments when you run into some one you’re really not that intimate with wearing a full on feathery bikini costume in the streets, clearly off their faces, getting with some one they blatantly had never met before in their lives (seriously, true story – I saw one of my school teachers in a similar situation before). Obviously, as it is a movie aimed at children they haven’t made that situation quite so awkward.
The design and graphics left me completely speechless. I am very aware that my city is beautiful but this can’t really be captured by a photograph – but this was just amazing. It literally almost made me cry when they first showed the parade in the Sambódromo Marquês de Sapucaí, with the samba school Salgueiro dancing down the Carnaval specialised street. [Sidebar: This year’s Salgueiro samba parade had special floats and costumes to celebrate being in the movie, as their theme was cinema in Rio. It also had a whole section of people dressed as policemen from Elite Squad 2 – which, by the way is an amazing film as well. Anyway, here’s a link to the real thing.]
Something that really astonished me about this movie is the music. I really had no idea that it would be so concentrated on the music but it makes sense, that is another factor that makes our culture famous. It really annoys me that the most promoted song for the film is the one produced by will.i.am (this is not his first mess around with Brazilian music, actually and here’s another bizarro remix I found) because there are so many better tracks that could better show the Brazilian musical character, like the movie’s opening song. The bossa nova track is also amazing – I’ll post it here when I find it.
Anyway, watch this film! Just do it, I don’t care if you don’t like animations.