Consuming Visions

Consuming Visions: Cinema, Writing, and Modernity in Rio de Janeiro

Maite Conde
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Consuming Visions
    Book Description:

    Consuming Visionsexplores the relationship between cinema and writing in early twentieth-century Brazil, focusing on how the new and foreign medium of film was consumed by a literary society in the throes of modernization. Maite Conde places this relationship in the specific context of turn-of-the-century Rio de Janeiro, which underwent a radical transformation to a modern global city, becoming a concrete symbol of the country's broader processes of change and modernization. Analyzing an array of literary texts, from journalistic essays and popular women's novels to anarchist treatises and vaudeville plays, the author shows how the writers' encounters with the cinema were consistent with the significant changes taking place in the city.

    The arrival and initial development of the cinema in Brazil were part of the new urban landscape in which early Brazilian movies not only articulated the processes of the city's modernization but also enabled new urban spectators-women, immigrants, a new working class, and a recently liberated slave population-to see, believe in, and participate in its future. In the process, these early movies challenged the power of the written word and of Brazilian writers, threatening the hegemonic function of writing that had traditionally forged the contours of the nation's cultural life. An emerging market of consumers of the new cultural phenomena-popular theater, the department store, the factory, illustrated magazines-reflected changes that not only modernized literary production but also altered the very life and everyday urban experiences of the population.Consuming Visionsis an ambitious and engaging examination of the ways in which mass culture can become an agent of intellectual and aesthetic transformation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8139-3219-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    It is 1923, and the Brazilian author Monteiro Lobato sits down to write a novel. The novel Lobato has planned is to be written “in an old-fashioned style” (219). Adopting formulas from the consecrated national writers José de Alencar and Gonçalves Dias, Lobato conjures up his own Brazilian text featuring “a white soldier, two virgins from the cacique forest, war dances, a heroic escape,” and a heroine named Marabá (219). The scene is set, the characters are in their places, and the author begins his Brazilian tale. Five pages into his book, however, he gives up: “The thought of traipsing...

  5. Part One: Writers, Film, and the New Visual Landscape of Rio de Janeiro
    • 1 Documenting New Urban Experiences: The Cinematic Work of the Crônica
      (pp. 21-49)

      Brazilian writers’ first encounter with film took place in the daily press. Between 1900 and 1910 a number of authors mentioned the arrival and dissemination of what was then called the cinematograph in journalistic essays orcrônicas. Artur Azevedo, Olavo Bilac, João do Rio and Lima Barreto all included passing references to the cinema incrônicaswritten during the first decade of the twentieth century. Such references suggest that by 1910 the new device had become an everyday form of entertainment in Brazil’s capital.

      A brief glance through journals and newspapers from the period highlights the importance of the cinema...

    • 2 Comic Visions of the New City: Writers and Film Production during the Belle Époque of Brazilian Cinema
      (pp. 50-86)

      By the time Bilac and João do Rio were documenting their experiences of the movies, a few Brazilian writers had started to take a more active interest in the cinema, participating in the actual production of films and contributing to the period subsequently named the Belle Époque (1908–12), Brazil’s Golden Age of filmmaking when the consumption of domestic films was greater than that of imported products.¹ In 1909 the poet Manuel Bastos Tigre (1882–1957) began writing movie scripts, orfitas impressas,that were published in the magazineCareta,and he later produced the rhyming subtitles forO filme...

  6. Part Two: Writers, Film, and Alternative Visions of Rio de Janeiro
    • 3 Envisioning a New Political Landscape: Martin Fontes’s Anarchist Flirtation with Film
      (pp. 89-124)

      The appearance of publications likeCaretatestifies to a greater politicization of Brazilian popular and mass culture at the start of the twentieth century. Politics was no longer restricted to a few men who discussed government affairs behind closed doors; it began to enter the public domain. Illustrated magazines, with their caricatured depiction of state leaders and humorous take on government policies, made politics more visible and comprehensible to a broader segment of the population, leading to an increasing political engagement. Francisco Foot Hardman relates this growing political consciousness to the development of a new urban readership, consisting mainly of...

    • 4 Women, Rio’s Modernity, and Film’s Visual Pleasures: Benjamin Costallat’s Mademoiselle Cinema
      (pp. 125-176)

      The postwar years saw a new development in Brazilian writers’ encounter with film. Authors had previously engaged with the medium in nonliterary texts, documenting the movies impact on society in journalistic works or penning movie scripts. Rarely if ever did they allow their fascination with the cinema to enter into their literary endeavors. Indeed, Brazilian novels of the early 1900s were devoid of any direct reference to the medium’s influence on everyday modern life. This situation began to change in the 1920s when an increasing number of writers began to mention the movies in their literary works. It was then...

  7. Conclusion: Reviving the Lettered City
    (pp. 177-180)

    By the time Benjamin Costallat had published his scandalous novel, other writers in Brazil were drawn to film in different ways, establishing a critical dialogue with the medium to elaborate a new kind of cinematic prose. The montage and cuts that were central to the movies found their way into Brazilian prose and poetry in texts such as Oswald de Andrade’sMemórias sentimentais de João Miramar(Sentimental Memoirs of João Miramar, 1924), Mário de Andrade’sMacunaíma(1928) andPaulicéia desvairada(Hallucinated City, 1922), and (more obviously) Antônio de Alcântara Machado’sPathé Baby(1925). These writers found ways to appropriate elements...

  8. Appendices
    • Appendix 1 “Contemporary Illness,”
      (pp. 181-184)
      Olavo Bilac
    • Appendix 2 “Cinematographer of Letters,”
      (pp. 185-187)
      João do Rio
    • Appendix 3 “The Rush to Get Things Done,”
      (pp. 188-191)
      João do Rio
    • Appendix 4 “Sacrilege,”
      (pp. 192-193)
      Olavo Bilac
    • Appendix 5 “Screenplay for a Fantastic film—A Super Production. The Greatest Man of All Humankind The Story of the Life of Peter Kropotkin. An Epic in Three Parts”
      (pp. 194-195)
      Martins Fontes
    • Appendix 6 “Love and Cinema,”
      (pp. 196-198)
      Lima Barreto
  9. Notes
    (pp. 199-208)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 209-220)
  11. Filmography
    (pp. 221-224)
  12. Index
    (pp. 225-228)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 229-231)