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Bacurau (2019)

- Kleber Mendonça Filho + Juliano Dornelles

The towns of Bacurau a fictional municipality set within a sub-region of Brazil known as the Sertao (or ‘backlands’). Ethnographically diverse with a rich history of folklore; the Sertao is an arid and notoriously poor region with a history of drought and an economy based largely on subsistence farming. Communities within the Sertao have historically unified by religion, nomadism and by a shared sense of socio-economic disenfranchisement from modern society. By the turn of the 20th century, many in the region were gripped by a apoalypytic milleanarianism -  emboldened as the region drifted further and further away from a rapidly modernising, urban Brazil. 


This disenfranchisement culminated in civil war In 1895, where a community from the town of Canudos came together in open rebellion against the Brazilian Republic. After a number of unsuccessful attempts at military repression by the authorities, the Brazilian army overran the village, razed it to the ground and slaughtered almost all its inhabitants. It remains the deadliest civil conflict in the country’s history. 


It is from this dark reality that Bacurau draws inspiration. It is a small rural village in Brazil that is under threat of extinction from all angles. Corrupt local politicians have siphoned off the towns water supply and caused a drought that has left the people of the town on the brink of survival. Simultaneously, a bloodthirsty group of western holidaymakers are on all all-inclusive package holiday tour of the area. They are fully armed with automatic rifles and machetes, having paid for the privilege to hunt and kill the townsfolk in some sort of a twisted, dystopian human safari hunt. The people of Bacurau are up against it, but have their community - and they fight back…


Bacurau is a story of solidarity and defiance against the odds . It is also littered with warped psychedelic imagery,  mysticism, absurdist non sequitur. Jodorowsky-style surrealism and  tarantino-esque gore-porn. The film is also excited with absolute clarity and there are some stand out performances. 


The music of Tropicalia feels like natural starting point for this project. Born in Bahia, in the very same state that is home to the harsh backlands of the Sertao, Tropicalia was an avant garde artistic movmement  that fuzed Psyedelic rock and Barque pop with more traditional  afro-brazillian rhythms. The movement was also a broader means of political expression - one that rejected the nationalistic sentiment and repressive policies of the newly formed Military dictatorship. 


Beyond this, I have put together an eclectic series of compositions to complement the journey that Bacurau takes you on, whilst also reflecting the broad spectrum of music that Brazil has to offer. The delicate textures of native instrumental composers gradually transition more eccentric sounds of Tropicalia. The mood is then carried into darker, more uncertain territories - showcasing some of the amazing hip hop and electronic music coming out of the country in the 21st century.