MSU Cinema International presents "Carmo, Hit the Road" This Week
Murray State's Cinema International presents the 2010 Brazilian film Carmo, Hit the Road this Thursday and Saturday. Austin Carter speaks to program director Dr. Thérèse St. Paul and professor of Spanish and Portuguese Dr. Moses Fritz ahead of the screenings.
From the MSU Cinema International website:
"In this Sundance dazzler, Carmo agrees to help a lonesome, wheelchair-bound low-life transport a shipment of smuggled goods. An unlikely romance unfolds as the two are chased through a lush, jagged, and breathtaking South American landscape. From the music to the outstanding visual imagery, this road movie is filmed with sensuality and artistic humor.
Character study, chase thriller, comedy, religious satire, globalization tract, with a touch of Pulp Fiction...this lively movie is so full of vivacious characters and non-stop events that you will hardly have time to catch your breath."
"I think the comparison to Pulp Fiction is apt," Fritz begins. "In fact, as I was watching the movie, I wondered if sometimes the director wasn't paying homage to Tarantino at certain points. That is to say, it is quite graphically violent at times. I will warn viewers there are depictions of sexual assault in the film that some may find troubling. So, if you know those things going in, I think you'll be better prepared for what the movie has to offer."
Fritz explains that, while there is violence in the film, Murilo Pasta (director) keeps the narrative focused on social justice "rather than glorification of that violence. It is portrayed in negative terms. I do recommend that viewers of the film think about the representations of violence in the movie and what those representations have to say as a critique of society from the perspective of the director."
"In addition to that, the title character, Carmo, her full name is Maria do Carmo, which is a reference to a historical figure who's now more of a folk hero in Brazil, Maria do Carmo Fagundes, who lived at the end of the 19th century. She was notorious for being a bon vivant; she had many lovers. She was famous for carousing all night long, heavy drinking, that kind of thing. She was tragically murdered by her last lover, an officer in the Brazilian military. It was quite a violent end to the life of Maria in history."
"Her gravesite has become a bit of an attraction for pilgrims who come to her grave to petition things from her, to ask for her intervention, especially women," Fritz continues. "Women go to her tomb to ask for things, whether it be help with an abusive lover, household finances, anything like that. She's known as the Santa Profana, the Prostitute Saint, though it's not clear from what I know whether she engaged in prostitution."
"I think what this movie does is take the story of the historical Maria do Carmo and update it for the 21st century because lots of what we see in the film are things that Maria did. Carmo is a heavy drinker; she's a carouser, she also has lovers. I think it is very much in keeping with the biography of the Brazilian folk character. We see a very critical look at violence and sexual predation in Brazilian society. I think it's important to go into this film knowing the character of Carmo in the film is based on this historical figure from the late 19th century."
Carmo, like other films in the Cinema International Fall 2022 season, is a road trip film. Fritz says that the landscapes depicted in the film are important "insofar as they show how remote certain communities are. So much of the movie shows this beautiful red pickup truck tearing down the dusty roads of Brazil on its way to the Bolivian border. You see lots of scenes of stunning natural beauty."
"I think it's also, in a way, a love letter to the Brazilian landscape. The movie ends in a montage of Margo and Carmo traveling throughout various countries in South America. You see all sorts of different landscapes that exist in South America—the continent, not just one region or stereotypical view of what we think of when we think of South America. They end in Argentina with a beautiful view of the Andes."
"The natural landscape is a beautiful element in this movie," Fritz concludes. "It really is kind of a contrast to the uglier behaviors that some of the human beings have within that landscape. You definitely see a contrast between the natural beauty and the ugliness of certain human behaviors throughout the movie."
MSU Cinema International presents Carmo, Hit the Road on Thursday, October 20th, in the Barkley Room and Saturday, October 22nd, in the Curris Center Theater. Both screenings start at 7:30 pm, are on the third floor of the Curris Center, and are free and open to the public.
For more information on the MSU Cinema International program, including upcoming screenings and how to donate, visit its website.