Films as a Reflection of Reality
Rocha’s Ideas about the Esthetic of Hunger
Rocha says that it is inevitable for filmmakers to produce films that reflect the realities of current life situations. Movies should not contain high imaginative life, characterized by high-cost budgets and production technology. Rather, they should be a representation of the lives of the common people. He suggests that films should serve as agents of change to bring alleviation of the people’s misery. According to Rocha’s viewpoint, violence in the third world countries is not a result of primitivism but an expression of hunger and misery. It is only through violence that the people in misery can express their dissatisfaction with the fortunate group and draw their attention. Rocha states that the films should not be fictitious but should meet the communities’ experiences. The third world life is characteristic of hunger, neocolonialism, and imperialism. Therefore, the filmmakers in these regions ought to depict this plight in their films, which is a way of communicating and expressing the reality to the audience. Highly fictitious industrial films are unrealistic and do not match with the people’s reality. In accordance with Rocha’s perspective, some filmmakers from third world countries have produced films that depict the struggle of the citizens of their countries. These filmmakers air their discontent concerning the current state of affairs. Thus, films should be a representation of the people and an asset of revolution to communicate to the world the scenario happening in the third developing countries.
Esthetic of Hunger in Barravento
Rocha produced the film Barravento in 1962, which carries the aesthetic of hunger theme in it. The characters in Rocha’s film live in poverty and adhere to a cultic religion. Though the characters and the scenes are imaginary, they are derived from the lives of Brazilians with African ancestry, practicing the Candomblé religion. Similar to people in other third world countries, the characters in Barravento struggle to get enough food to feed their families.
Filming the issues that were affecting the Brazilians at that moment, Rocha was acting upon his belief of the aesthetic of hunger. He clearly illustrates the anglers’ discontent with the fishnets owner, which pushed the villagers to look for any possible solution. One person suggested defiance, but because of the villagers’ belief, they decided otherwise. In this context, Rocha shows that villagers were logical in their plight. The rich in the society exploited the rest and the poor had no rescue. Ironically, under such conditions, people are not always aggressive enough to fight their problems. They may engage in actions that seem primitive to other nations, but they have no other way (Rocha 2). For example, these characters could do nothing apart from turning to their faith in chastity. People in the third world are not primitive and unreasonable, which is evident as the characters in Barravento turned down the proposition to riot against the net owners. On the contrary, they only turn to violence as the last resort. The faith in chastity, where a chaste man has divine protection, may seem primitive, but it was the only solution for the characters of the film. However, the attempted revolt and the implementation of Candomblé raised an alarm to the owners that the fishermen were not contended and they would fight for their freedom.
Aesthetic Ideology in Works of Other Filmmakers
One can also see Rocha’s ideas in the films of other filmmakers, namely Satyajit Ray and Sembene Ousmane. They work in different styles but have the same inspiration. They produce films to portray the social evils and the miserable conditions of the people of their country. Moreover, the works of Rocha, Ray, and Ousmane are highly realistic. The third world films rest on the principles of allegory and realism, meaning that they depict the logical end of a life situation and not the desired end. Desired ends are always happy while realism and allegory presuppose uncertain ends. The portrayal of realism and allegory in the films of these three filmmakers proves that they work under the same inspiration.
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However, they do not always focus on hunger and violence. For instance, Rocha’s main point is that the appreciation of defiance and violence in the third world is not a symbol of primitivism but a way of making people’s point heard. On the contrary, Ousmane in his film Borom Sarret (1963) does not depict violence. However, he portrays the true face of misery and helplessness of the individuals and the constant fight against hunger. In this film, the main character struggles hard to make a living but usually receives nothing. This scenario is frustrating, hence leading him to behave in an irrational manner. However, one can argue that this way of conduct exhibits the realism of the situation. Ousmane coincides with Rocha in that he does not paint his nation beautiful in the eyes of the audience but voices out the problems. Furthermore, another filmmaker, Satyajit Ray, highlights the difficulties of a normal citizen in India in his Apu Trilogy. The trilogy shows the transition from childhood to early adulthood of a boy from a low-income family. Ray refused to alter his script because he believed that the only way to make auspicious films is to represent life. Unlike fiction films, Ray’s film does not have a happy ending (Robinson 56).
Moreover, in spite of the same inspiration, the filmmakers each have a unique style, which represents individual countries. If all filmmakers followed the aesthetic ideology, then the films would not meet the deep essence of aesthetics. Rocha’s ideology of aesthetics presupposed originality and portrayal of the reality. Therefore, the ideology of aesthetics cannot take the same path for films from different regions since each area has unique problems. Rocha, Ray, and Ousmane embrace the aesthetic ideology fully and represent their countries in their pieces of art. The inartistic feature of the films brings out in detail the countries in question.
Major Aesthetic Components and Concern of Third Cinema
As mentioned earlier, realism and allegory are the major components of the third cinema. The use of the unprofessional crew to shoot films and on-location shooting as in the documentaries enabled third cinema to communicate the reality. The use of inexperienced crew is s feature that Ray, Ousmane, and Rocha employed in their films. This exercise aims at naturalism. Professional crew alters scenes and conduct to fit what they want to present. On the contrary, the unprofessional crew will act naturally, reacting to every situation in a different manner. To convey the main idea of the film on different platforms at the same time, the filmmakers use metaphors and metonymies (Rocha 3). The use of allegory is also a common feature employed by all the three filmmakers. Each of them allows the discussion of the main idea on different platforms through various means. The filmmakers of the third cinema show the main concern of aesthetics as a way of igniting the change. After a period of oppression when the people cannot liberate themselves from their oppressors, it becomes inevitable that they will celebrate anyone who shows protest. In addition, the directors show an appreciation of the critique of poverty. Filmmakers portray the concerns of aesthetics as the salvation for which the people have been waiting.
The French New Way and the Italian Neorealism were two conflicting ideologies, resulting in the suffering of the common people. It was important to make the point of the deteriorating situation. It was impossible for the people to strike or to express their viewpoints; therefore, the films served as a means of airing the voice of the individuals. The filmmakers were telling their viewers that even the weak ones have the power if only it is consolidated. The solidarity could help to defeat the powerful opponent as long as the oppressed accept the oppression as a challenge and not a shame. The target audience for the third cinema was the common public, the proposers of the Italian Neorealism, and the proposers of the French New Way. The directors of the film intended to communicate to the common people the importance of aggressiveness and violence in fighting for the right course. Furthermore, they were targeting the leaders, who were breeding the misfortune of the common citizens. To these groups, the filmmakers were communicating the fact that the people are tired and need a change of events. Films were also conveying the idea that individuals were ready to appreciate any protests against atrocities as they fought poverty. The third cinema was a landmark in the world cinema. Owing to it, the filmmakers learned to appreciate the reality of life situations and use the components of aesthetics to voice out their concerns.
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In conclusion, various filmmakers apply Rocha’s ideas of the aesthetic of hunger differently. Rocha portrays the concerns of criticizing poverty and appreciating violence in his film. Similarly, Ray and Ousmane depict the ideas of criticizing poverty, although they hardly portray the appreciation of violence. Nevertheless, it does not mean that they do not implement the idea at all. Their way of highlighting this idea comes in when the characters make decisions that seem irrational and primitive. The appreciation of violence is not necessarily a protest, in general, but a struggle against the conventional way of thinking. The third cinema employs the components of the aesthetic ideology of realism and allegory. It succeeds in communicating the major idea to the target audience, the viewers of all social classes. The cinema was a form of dialog with the Italian Neorealism and the French New Way. The third cinema made a mark in the world cinema and it has seen many filmmakers imitate that style. The third world countries experience awkward economic, social, and cultural situations. Producing fancy films that depict high technological advancements and massive industrialization is a mockery to the situations. Realism serves to depict these awkward situations in the films while allegory assists in communicating the people’s perspective about the situations. The film industry ought to appreciate the reality of life but not aim at entertaining people. Moreover, aesthetic films have small budgets and are conveniently affordable in the third world. Producing massive industrial and high technological films costs a fortune, which is hardly affordable in the developing countries. Therefore, contracting unprofessional crew and conduction of on-location shootings are crucial to aesthetic films. It does not only save on costs but also increases the efficiency of the aesthetic ideology in the film. It is difficult for the third world citizens to express their discontent, but the aesthetic film helps to achieve this purpose. The importance of aesthetic ideology in the film production cannot be underestimated, as the aesthetic of hunger ideology is a critical way of approaching film production for the third world.