Thursday, 1 July 2010
Brazil in The Barbican
Have you heard of Arnaldo Baptista? Until last night I hadn’t, but I was completely touched by the story of his life, told in a two-hour documentary at The Barbican.
Baptista was one of the three founding members of Brazilian band Os Mutantes and the documentary explores his role in the rise and fall of the band.
Os Mutantes is credited with being one of the driving forces behind Tropicália, a Brazilian arts movement of the late 1960s, with music at the forefront, and which took place during a military dictatorship. Os Mutantes – amongst others – were expressing themselves in a way nobody had seen before in Brazil during a period of censorship.
But what’s interesting is that Baptista wasn’t really aware of what he was creating at the time. He was enveloped in music and a world that seemed devoid of responsibility and – at times – reality. Part of me was envious of his ability to be so insular, so focused on what he loved at the expense of everything else. But equally, that was partly what led to the band’s demise and Baptista’s depression. He wanted a childhood creation to last forever. Still, he was able to find peace with himself and lead a life that he seemed happy with. But I can’t help feeling that it was a compromise – if he could, Baptista would have frozen time and lived the original Os Mutantes experience forever.
The film is part of The Barbican’s Cinema of Brazil series, which lasts until Saturday. There are a couple of films on tonight too – try to catch one.