Lecture & Film

“Sem Essa, Aranha” and Belair films: Brazilian underground ‘Cinema Marginal’ at the 1970’s.

Sem Essa, Aranha

Fernão Pessoa Ramos

Jan. 25, 2018 20:15 h

Rogério Sganzerla’s ‘Sem Essa, Aranha’ is one of five feature films made by Belair, a small and short-lived independent production house, which had an outsized influence on Brazilian avant-garde film. ‘Sem Essa, Aranha’ is the companion piece to another Sganzerla film, Carnaval na Lama, a color cinemascope 35 mm film, made earlier that same year.

In the fictional world of Brazilian ‘Cinema Marginal’, representation reaches its limits. Words, rational statements und grammatical forms are discarded for figurations of extreme states of emotion, figurations of abjection, horror or extreme dionysiac moods. Fragmentary convulsive body language, screams, howls, murmurs, loud guffaws, or eschatological acts replace ordered dialogue as the preferred mode of expression. In addition, the Brazilian counterculture of the 1960s and its ideology counter the horror of a repressive military regime and the lived reality of torture or death with the paradisiac promises of sex, drugs and psychedelic music.

Sem Essa Aranha is a 16 mm film, which consists of around 17 extreme long takes. The mise-en-scène combines a free spirit and a lot of improvisation with a strict plan for camera movements. It is a testament to the collective spirit of life at Belair house, which appears to have oscillated between debauchery and exasperation. The leading character of ‘Sem Essa, Aranha’, is Helena Ignez, the great star of Cinema Marginal, whose acting style incorporates the real spirit of the ‘Marginal’. ‘Sem Essa Aranha’ remains a quintessential testimony of the underground mood in Brazil and South America cinema, a strong artistic response to a harrowing political moment.