During the course of this semester, I attended many events with Latin American content. Although I both heard lectures and viewed movies, the continuity and popularity of certain recurring themes in cinema interested me the most. Among the many themes addressed, money, violence, the role and importance of women, and the evolution of government were prevalent and interconnected. Over the years, Latin America’s image has changed from a valuable source for raw goods, to a rebellious child of colonial powers, to a region struggling to cope with oppressive governments from within. At the same time that these phases have occurred, social norms have also evolved. Despite the fact that women’s roles have changed in some areas, they remain important to the society as a whole, in whatever capacity they fulfill. While nations of the region may lack ethnic, linguistic, or cultural ties, they share similar historical experiences. As such, the common use of these topics was not surprising, because of their prominence as important topics throughout Latin American history.
All of the films I saw—Cidade de Deus, La Sexta Sección, Plata Quemada, Maria, Full of Grace, and Mujeres Insumisas—feature female characters, each of whom has a different function in the individual contexts. Overall, expectations of women are high, even though the resources available to them are inadequate. Often portrayed as victims, women receive insufficient respect for all that they manage to accomplish, especially given their dismal circumstances.
In the Brazilian film Cidade de Deus, Angélica—the main female character—is simultaneously depicted as both powerless and powerful. She accepts gifts from Tiago, Rocket, and Benny, a...
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...uments for a philharmonic band, a kitchen for the local kindergarten, a basketball court, and a church for the town. Money and poverty are obviously very prominent issues in Boqueron, as well as numerous other Latin American towns, and the men are again depicted as the breadwinners.
The Latin American films that I saw this semester have many thematic ties. Among these are the importance of money, the role of women, the existence of violence, and the prevalence of corruption. The frequency of the occurrence of these topics is not coincidental, but rather a reflection of the issues and difficulties faced by many Latin American nations. Film provides a unique arena in which to address social wrongs and change, national and international dilemmas, and other topics of interest, and these movies provide connections in Latin America when they may not otherwise exist.
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