Long before the so-called global village came into existence, and the Internet made it easy to spread your name around the world, Brazil was already global. It is a country which is culturally cannibalistic by nature, in which the new and the old, the foreign and the indigenous, not only lie side by side but are mixed, assimilated and recreated day in day out. What sort of country is it, in which, at the height of the 60’s, a capoeira song, played with the aggressive drive of rock’n’roll, found its way into thousands of homes, entitled ‘Sunday in the Park’? What do you call this huge melting-pot? Tropicalism!
And, what exactly is Tropicalism? It is this simple, yet complex, question that a Portuguese TV host puts to an exiled and downbeat Caetano Veloso right at the start of Marcelo Machado’s film. The director, who grew up listening to the ground-breaking sounds of Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, the Mutantes and Tom Zé, and who did not understand lyrics in English, though had a passion for something called rock’n’roll, takes the audience on a tour through sounds and images and into the history of one of Brazil’s most iconic cultural movements.
In an affectionate panorama, built up from a miscellany of references, interviews, material dug from archives, images and, of course, songs, the viewer travels through the fertile, controversial and violent years of 1967, 1968, 1969.