Glauber Rocha: key figure of the "New Cinema" in Brazil

Resistance and social protest in Brazilian cinema

Glauber Rocha (20th Century) by Cinemateca BrasileiraVirtual Museum of Lusophony

Glauber Rocha (1939-1981) was a Brazilian filmmaker and a key figure of the Brazilian New Cinema (Cinema Novo Brasileiro). He began his career as a journalist and film critic, and in 1959 finally made his debut as a movie director, with the short film Courtyard/Pátio (1959). The ferocious approach to the political situation of the country, from a disruptive, visionary and experimental view, is a striking feature of his films. He left Brazil in 1971, after successive conflicts with the authorities due to his strong criticism of the military dictatorship (1964-1985).

Praça Tancredo Neves and Nossa Senhora das Vitórias Cathedral, in Vitória da Conquista (Bahia), where Glauber Rocha was born.

Glauber the Movie, Labyrinth of Brazil (21th Century) by Silvio TendlerVirtual Museum of Lusophony

Silvio Tendler | 2003

Glauber the Movie, Labyrinth of Brazil, directed by Silvio Tendler, is a documentary that follows the life and work of Glauber Rocha.

The beginning of a career

Buraquinho Beach, in Lauro de Freitas (Bahia), where Turning Wind/Barravento (1962) was shot.

Turning Wind (20th Century) by Glauber RochaVirtual Museum of Lusophony

Glauber Rocha | 1962

Turning Wind is shot in the state of Bahia. When a man returns to his home, a fishing village, he finds its community oppressed by religious mysticism. Glauber Rocha’s first full-length feature is a deep reflection on the way religion can repress the political conscience and interfere in human relations. Turning Wind is a prophetic film in Glauber Rocha’s career, showing the power of cinema as an instrument of analysis and criticism of societies’ structures of power and its damaging impact on human needs.

International recognition

Monte Santo (Bahia), where Black God, White Devil/Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol (1964) was shot.

Black God, White Devil (20th Century) by Glauber RochaVirtual Museum of Lusophony

Glauber Rocha | 1964

An allegory of the human struggle, Black God, White Devil is set in the 1930’s Brazil, in the process of transition from rural to urban structures. After murdering a tyrannical coronel, Manoel flees with his wife, Rosa, and joins a religious group that fights against the oppression of large landowners – meanwhile, these landowners hire a man named António das Mortes to kill them. Glauber Rocha’s aesthetic is strongly influenced by the 1960’s period of intellectual upheaval and change, caused by the political crisis and artistic renewal.

Amazonas, Amazonas (20th Century) by Glauber RochaVirtual Museum of Lusophony

Glauber Rocha | 1965

Amazonas, Amazonas is a journey through the Amazon river, its natural attractions and its wealth. This short film was commissioned by the Department of Tourism and Promotions of Amazon.

Entranced Earth (20th Century) by Glauber RochaVirtual Museum of Lusophony

Glauber Rocha | 1967

Glauber Rocha’s political allegory unfolds in an imaginary country, Eldorado. One of the filmmaker’s most acclaimed films, Entranced Earth is a metaphor for political power and corruption, following the political events of that decade. Its exhibition was initially banned in Brazil. Winner of the Golden Leopard award at the Locarno International Film Festival in 1968.

Antonio das Mortes (20th Century) by Glauber RochaVirtual Museum of Lusophony

Glauber Rocha | 1969

Glauber Rocha's first color picture. Preceded by Black God, White Devil (1964), Antonio das Mortes takes place some years after António das Mortes killed Corisco, the last of the cangaceiros (social bandits from the Northeast of Brazil). Now, a new cangaceiro arrives at a little town named Garden of Piranhas, where he will have to face António das Mortes. Thus, begins the duel between the dragon of evil and the warrior saint. Winner of Best Director Award at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival.

Exile and the final decade

The Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, where the initial sequence of Câncer (1968-1972) was shot. 

The Lion Has Seven Heads (20th Century) by Glauber RochaVirtual Museum of Lusophony

Glauber Rocha | 1970

The Lion Has Seven Heads is the result of a proposal from Claude-Antoine, who invited Glauber Rocha to make a movie in Congo. This is a film that reflects on the devastating effects of the Euro-American colonialism in Africa, from the perspective of the colonized and subordinated Other.

Cutting Heads (20th Century) by Glauber RochaVirtual Museum of Lusophony

Glauber Rocha | 1970

Cabezas Cortadas is also the result of a proposal from Spanish producer Pere Fages, who invited Glauber Rocha to make a movie in Spain. This film is an allegory of the politics of the countries marked by underdevelopment through the delirious figure of Diaz, a deposed Latin American dictator who dreams of the power he had in Eldorado – the same imaginary land of Entranced Earth (1967).

Cancer (20th Century) by Glauber RochaVirtual Museum of Lusophony

Glauber Rocha | 1968-1972

Cancer differs from other films in Brazilian New Cinema, with aesthetic proposals much closer to underground cinema, in the words of Luís Alberto Rocha Melo. This is well summarised in Glauber Rocha’s words: Cancer is a private film, I will not send it to festivals, nor will I show it in theaters. Or maybe I’ll show it, but I haven't finished it yet, I still need to edit the film. At the moment, I'm not interested in doing it because my pleasure was just in shooting it and I suppose that maybe what’s there is not of importance.

Claro (20th Century) by Glauber RochaVirtual Museum of Lusophony

Glauber Rocha | 1975

Mixing documentary and fiction, Claro is a film that explores the social and economic inequalities in Rome, and the dark side of the touristic city. As a female character says, later in the film, regarding a specific neighborhood: The neighborhood was created in the time of fascism. They wanted to clean up the city center. They decided (especially the Vatican), therefore, that the poor who bothered tourists should be taken to comfortable, well-kept houses, but 20km from the city, in a ghetto.

Di Cavalcanti (20th Century) by Glauber RochaVirtual Museum of Lusophony

Glauber Rocha | 1977

The funeral of the plastic artist Di Cavalcanti under an effusive, vibrant and even joyful glance, through a series of dispersed images and sounds. Glauber Rocha’s Di Cavalcanti is an informal tribute to an artist and his career.

Glauber Rocha | 1980

Inspired by a poem by Castro Alves, The Age of the Earth is the last film directed by Glauber Rocha. The film revisits the Christian myth through elements of Brazilian culture. According to Glauber Rocha, (...)the film shows a Fisherman-Christ (…), a Black Christ (…), it shows the Christ who is a Portuguese conqueror (…), and it shows the Warrior-Christ Ogum de Lampião (…). That means, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse which reanimate Christ in the Third World, retelling the myth through the Four Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, whose identity is revealed in the movie almost as if it were a Third Testament.

Credits: Story

Cover illustration: Tiago Vieira da Silva
Image processing: Joana Canas


Globo. (1980). Programa Fantástico. Retrieved from

Melo, L. A. R. (n.d). Câncer, de Glauber Rocha. Contracampo: Revista de Cinema, [s.l.], [s.d.]. Retrieved from

Rodriguez, P. A. S. (2016). Latin American Cinema: A Comparative History. California: University of California Press.

Câncer, de Glauber Rocha - "Contracampo: Revista de Cinema"

Interview of Glauber Rocha - "Programa Fantástico"

Credits: All media
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