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Cannibalizing the Colony

Cinematic Adaptations of Colonial Literature in Mexico and Brazil

by Richard Gordon

Publication Year: 2009

The years 1992 and 2000 marked the 500-year anniversary of the arrival of the Spanish and the Portuguese in America and prompted an explosion of rewritings and cinematic renditions of texts and figures from colonial Latin America. Cannibalizing the Colony analyzes a crucial way that Latin American historical films have grappled with the legacy of colonialism. It studies how and why filmmakers in Brazil and Mexico—the countries that have produced most films about the colonial period in Latin America—appropriate and transform colonial narratives of European and indigenous contact into commentaries on national identity. The book looks at how filmmakers attempt to reconfigure history and culture and incorporate it into present-day understandings of the nation. The book additionally considers the motivations and implications for these filmic dialogues with the past and how the directors attempt to control the way that spectators understand the complex and contentious roots of identity in Mexico and Brazil.

Published by: Purdue University Press

Series: Purdue Studies in Romance Literatures


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Title Page

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p. vii

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pp. ix-x

This book owes its existence to the help of many, many people. Those listed below are the ones I have been able to recall. The shortcomings that remain, in spite of their generous aid are, of course, mine alone. This project’s first life, as a dissertation, benefited immensely from the support, first and foremost, of Stephanie...

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pp. 1-18

The 1992 and 2000 quincentenaries of the arrival of the Spanish and the Portuguese in America prompted an explosion of rewritings and cinematic renditions of texts and figures from colonial Latin America. However, such critical and aesthetic negotiations with the colonial past are not simply a recent...

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Chapter One Re-creating Caminha

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pp. 19-46

Coinciding with the quincentenary of the Portuguese arrival in America in 1500, three Brazilian directors bookended the turn of the millennium with reconsiderations of the nation’s colonial past. Luiz Alberto Pereira’s Hans Staden(1999), Lúcia Murat’s Brava Gente Brasileira (2000), and Guel Arraes’s Caramuru...

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Chapter Two Exoticizing the Nation in Cabeza de Vaca (1991) and Como era gostoso o meu franc

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pp. 47-78

In one of the final scenes of Cabeza de Vaca (1991), Nicolás Echevarría’s liberally conceived cinematic adaptation of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca’s sixteenth-century Naufragios (1542 and 1555),1 the four protagonists of the film—Cabeza de Vaca,...

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Chapter Three Reimagining Guadalupe in Nuevo mundo (1976) and La otra conquista (1998

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pp. 79-108

Nicolás Echevarría’s well-known Cabeza de Vaca is not alone among recent Mexican films in reformulating national identity through a return to the colonial period. Two other Mexican films that bracket the decade of the 1990s have carved...

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Chapter Four Sor Juana In

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pp. 109-140

Eduardo Rossoff’s film Ave María was released in May of 2000, just two months before the PRI,1after seventy years of uninterrupted rule, lost the presidential election to the Alianza por el Cambio (PAN-PVEM)2 candidate, Vicente Fox. The film, which was partly financed by the former imperial...

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Chapter Five Inverted Captivities and Imagined Adaptations in Brave Gente Brasileira (2000) and Caramuru: A Inven

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pp. 141-176

Brava Gente Brasileira (2000), directed by Lúcia Murat, weaves a fictional story that stems from a historical event: an indigenous rebellion that takes place in 1778 in the Brazilian region of Mato Grosso do Sul. The “Notas de produção” [“Production Notes”] emphasize the film’s historical basis, thus...

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Epilogue The Unwieldy Dynamics of Anthropophagous Adaptations

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pp. 177-180

The final scene of Eduardo Rossoff’s Ave María uncovers a risk inherent in anthropophagous adaptations. This case, like several others covered in this book, involves the cinematic reconstruction of a national icon. The film’s protagonist, María Inez (a...


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pp. 181-196


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pp. 197-234

Works Cited

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pp. 235-252


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pp. 253-263

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About the Author

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Richard A. Gordon, The Ohio State University, works in the areas of Hispanic and Portuguese-language literatures and cultures and film studies and comparative studies. His research intersects with colonial and post-colonial studies, centering...

E-ISBN-13: 9781612491127
E-ISBN-10: 161249112X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557535191
Print-ISBN-10: 1557535191

Page Count: 228
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Purdue Studies in Romance Literatures
Series Editor Byline: Patricia Hart See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 794701197
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Cannibalizing the Colony

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Brazilian fiction -- Film and video adaptations.
  • Historical films -- Brazil -- History and criticism.
  • Mexican fiction -- Film and video adaptations.
  • Historical films -- Mexico -- History and criticism.
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