If you haven’t seen Bacarau – just go see it. I’m not hinting at what its about. But as it’s a Brazilian Indie flick, I promise you, you are going to walk out of your viewing of said film thinking – huh. Yeah? Woah. And you know what, if you have haven’t seen it yet, I’m not even going to give you a trailer. Why? Because I can’t find one that doesn’t give the game away. I will say this, it is a story that compares and contrasts the first world with the third world. (I literally had to rewrite that sentence four times to not give anything away.) See? You want to see a movie about that… thing. Right? If you’d like to watch it, and want to throw a couple bucks towards the Indie film world, definitely head over here to check it out. Because Bacarau Movie is The Hunt We All Wanted… let’s do it!
I know – woah, no trailer even? Nope. We are heading right into it. But PLEASE, don’t continue on, unless you’ve taken the time to watch this film. Thanks everyone for respecting my wishes here!
Bacurau Walk Through
This movie is a quaint little expose on the backwater world of the washed up fictional village Bacurau. Bacurau is a zero stop sign town, miles and miles away from São Paulo. We follow Teresa (played by Bárbara Colen) as she comes back home for her grandmother’s funeral. The town shuts down, and celebrates the woman who was sort of the matriarch of the town. And as they circle the wagons, we meet the 40 or 50 inhabitants. We learn about their pains with the children moving away. We find out about their battle with the local government official that built a nearby dam, and in so doing, cut the town off from its only natural water source. We come to love and care for these individual people. We learn of their quirks, their passions, and we can identify with them, even though their situations are so incredibly different from our own.
If you have ever traveled globally, it’s rare to be able to glimpse the locals from the other side of the curtain. You can avoid touristy hotels. You can avoid the standard travel log locations. And even so, you will still not get any sort of a feel for the locals, or their cares and concerns. I remember my first time in Haiti, I watched as Port-au-Prince went by around me, but I didn’t feel like I could actually see what life was like. And then the next time I visited, I was allowed to go and stay with individuals living in the normal villages outside of the city center. I was able to go with them to church. I was able to visit with the people around the village. We shared marvelous meals together. It was only then that I felt like I could actually see what life was like. This has happened to me tons of places, London, Lima, Manila, Addis Ababa, Manchester, Mexicali, Marburg, Seoul, etc., etc., and I enjoy it so much, I won’t travel unless I know that I can experience the culture authentically when I go. I mean, otherwise, just buy your starbucks travel mugs off of Ebay and call it a day.
What is Bacurau Really About?
Where were we? Oh yes, sure, so far, Bacurau is a lovely visit with the local people of this quaint Brazilian village. Last I checked though, this isn’t a travelog blog. But so far, this is a travelog blog. So what the heck is this movie really about? Well, when weird things start happening in the town, the townspeople take notice. There’s some sort of UFO drone that is spinning through Bacurau’s skies. There are dirt bikers that look ready to enter the next Nitro Circus at the Hollywood Bowl. And then the bodies start piling up. A child, two people walking, a family at a horse ranch…what is going on?
Soon though the town’s people decide they are going to need to do something to protect themselves. And the only one in the region who is really capable of dealing with a threat like this is an individual named Lunga (played by Silvero Pereira). Lunga fought with the local police and other government officials in order to stop the construction of the dam. Lunga’s struggle failed, but he’s been in hiding nearby ever since. Plinio (played by Wilson Rabelo) goes and brings two dead out to Lung’s group (cousins of some of his people) to convince him to come back to Bacurau to help.
We get our first clue as to what is really going on when the camera follows the two dirt bikers back to an outpost after they kill two people on the road. They were sort of cornered, and assumed they needed to kill the people on the road. But we learn quickly that these two are Brazilians who have been hired by a group of Americans. Hired to do what? We begin realizing that the point of the foreigners being there is to hunt the people of Bacurau. But there is more going on here. It’s a competition, with hunting licenses, and counts allowed. They all have earpieces, with some sort of static, alien kind of communication happening. All very confusing. Trust me though – we’ll talk about what is going on here later. Just bear with me. But the big news here is that someone in Brazil has accepted the money from these foreigners to murder locals. Which, sets up a very very interesting juxtaposition.
Bacurau as first world hunt of the developing world folks makes this a really, really interesting conversational piece. There was a movie that recently came out, called The Hunt, that got a lot of press. Why? Because it was supposedly a story about liberals hunting conservatives. Or something. (I’ve seen most of it, and I’m still unsure what the film is actually about. I personally didn’t like it at all. And I was intrigued. I wanted it to be a political cannibalistic, and chaotically wild ride. But no, it was just really stupid, and had no deeper conversational topic to it at all.) But here we have a very real, and very live, conversation that isn’t just interesting, but actually a really important dialogue.
The Ending of Bacurau
When two members of the assault crew – Kate and Willy – attempt to sneak up on two naturalists, tending their herbs in the buff, they get what’s coming to them. Willy is surprised, and has his head blown off. And Kate is injured with a shotgun blast to her hand and ribs. The two naturalists take Kate into town, but the town doctor isn’t able to save her, she bleeds out. Now, consider that for a moment. You have the gall to hunt random people down just for sport. For the “joy” of murdering them. But when they shoot you, you assume that you can demand that these people help you? Hahaha. If I was in Kate’s position, I’d be like, yup, fair… I deserve to be tortured ritualistically by your entire town for the next fifty years. It’s what I deserve. Anyway, when two of their members go missing, the entire crew spring to action, and begin stalking their way into the town, determined to A) get their two people back and B) kill everyone in the town. But as they arrive in town – everyone is gone. Hahahah.
Now, I have to stop for a sec, and comment about the fact that right now – at this moment in the film – we are basically reproducing the movie The Three Amigos. No? Lunga and his gang are the Three Amigos, and they have collaborated with the locals to use their strengths against the invaders. No? And now, everyone is hiding in the town. And El Guapo is storming into town, searching for everyone, so that he can kill them all. Come, on… that is exactly what is happening here.
OK, letting that digression go – Lunga and the people of the town are all hiding. Where? Well, all over. The school children are in the school building. And the rest of the parents are in a buried jail cell, waiting for the perfect moment to come out.
Now, Michael, the German leader of the group, is getting bored providing overwatch above the town. So he begins plinking various things at will. And when a truck full of coffins arrives, he shoots the two men that were driving. Did you catch that? They had coffins delivered to the town, in advance of the mini-pogrom they are about to invoke. But the towns people are still completely AWOL. Terry though, he’s about to have a come to Jesus moment. While walking through a local’s home, searching for some sign of life. He notices that the food is hot, and whoever lived there was there moments ago. And when he walks into this museum we’ve heard about since the beginning of the film – which absolutely no one ever agreed to swing through and visit when invited. But they should have – because then we would have known that the entire place has filled with the real guns of previous uprisings. Ah, guns. So the people are armed. And when that realization clicks for Terry, it’s a moment too late, because Lunga shoots him dead, and then hacks two of his friends to pieces when they come to find him. When two other members of the group shoot indiscriminately at the local school, the villagers shoot back through the windows and kill them both. And when they finally capture Michael, who almost committed suicide, they bury him alive in the town’s buried prison cell. Where, I’m sure, he lasted only a couple days without water. And the area’s mayor? Hahaha. They strip him, put him on a donkey, and send him out into the surrounding wilds. The end.
It’s funny – a couple days after I watched Bacurau, I started hearing from some of you asking for a walk-through and an explanation. Like this comment from Aaron, “I just watched it and am very confused. There’s so many layers to this, and weird things that must have more meaning than meets the eye. Patiently awaiting a tear down from you. HELP!” And Aaron, you win the prize of the day my friend. Because you are so right – there is a lot going on in this film.
The Superficial Bits Explained – the first thing that is definitely going through everyone’s mind is: “Who are these people, and what is this tech that they are using in their ears?” Well, we can ascertain a few things for sure. The first is that these are Americans who have paid money to a group that allows them to hunt Brazilians. This group, in turn, has paid local officials to turn a blind eye to their hunt. The local mayor has picked a group of people that gave him a ton of difficulties when he authorized the creation of a nearby dam. He has tried to make inroads with these people, but it would probably be more expeditious if they were all just dead. So, he’s allowed Michael to lead this group in to Bacurau to murder everyone.
Where we sort of lose the thread, and have to begin conjecturing, are with the comments that the characters make, “the count,” “the credit,” and those weird ear pieces that we hear a garbled static and weird beeping from. Do you remember them talking about the kills going in as credit against their count? My best guess here is that these Americans have paid to hunt. And there is this idea of a hunting license that they are giving credit against. But it also sort of feels like it is a friendly competition as well. They are trying to see who will score the highest “points” for kills.
But where things just get crazy for me, just off the chain weird, is the UFO and the earpieces. That is not a drone that is flying through the town. It’s a legit UFO. I don’t see any blades keeping it in the air at all. So it’s using no tech that I have ever heard of. Worse, those earpieces sort of make this group feel like they aren’t of this world at all? Did you guys get this same feeling? Or maybe the tech is just supposed to be 1st world modern, with an otherworldly feel to it for the people of Bacurau? I’m not 100% sure here. I’ve reached out to Kleber Mendonça Filho, and Juliano Dornelles, hopefully they will respond to a couple of my questions so that we can clear up a few of these crazy questions.
A Global War
When Terry wanders through the museum, we really do get the feeling like the spirit of a fighter has been coursing through this little village’s veins for hundreds of years. And flipping back through the lists of the wars that have ravaged Brazil over the last few hundreds years really opened my eyes. And while I consider myself something of a student of history, I know very little about Brazil’s history outside of the effects of colonialism, Portugal’s claim on the area, and the battles with France, and other world powers. And as I continued digging, I learned of UN studies declaring Brazil to be the most insecure country in the world. And I even got my hands on a movie called Elite Squad that tells the story of the country’s men in black who are charged with clearing slums and fighting back against rabid crime throughout the territory. Heck, after the first 250 years of Brazilian colonization more than 70% of the inhabitants were slaves. But Brazilian officials apparently have no desire to reconcile their destabilizing past with slavery. And yet, literally HALF of all slaves that crossed the Atlantic arrived in Brazil. Unbelievable. And the rot of that heritage have apparently been eating at Brazil’s foundations ever since.
I bring all this up, only to make the point, Brazil would be the perfect place to purchase a town for the slaughter. Of course it’s fiction. But only barely.
The thing I really enjoyed about this movie was the fact that we got to watch this town live. We watch them buy and sell, we watch them mourn. We get the feel for this little town and the stock of its people. And while they are extraordinarily poor, they seem to be a lovely people built of some incredibly strong stock. The movie The Hunt on the other hand, just took some random people and threw them in a blender. This movie actually forced us to fall in love with these people first. Heck, the violence that unwinds, only really starts after 90 minutes have already elapsed! The Hunt showed us decapitations, spikes, catapults, and all manner of chaos…and that was in the first five minutes! I kid you not. Heck, Justin Hartley’s character dies in the first 3!
But the question that Bacurau poses is this – if someone is more poor, or less well off than the rest of the world…does that mean that we should take advantage of them? And yet, we do! Even before the killing begins, the local state was already taking advantage of them. Beating back their requests for water from the nearby dammed river. Ignoring their pleas for food and hospital supplies. The hunt literally is just the next logical extension of the abuse that is already occurring! Which is why I loved this movie. These are beautiful people. They live hard lives, but they won’t be heartlessly murdered, even if the entire planet doesn’t care one way or the other. The Americans deserve the results of their bloody thirsty quest. As the movie comes to a close, we watch as the heads of the intruders were all placed in the center of the town, and recorded. No one celebrated the violence. No one reveled in their revenge. It was just a fact of survival for this small town.
Did you like this movie even half as much as I did? Because if you didn’t, I don’t think you were paying attention to what these film makers were saying…
Edited by: CY