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The movie, which was nominated for for an Oscar as Best Foreign Film, was the most successful Brazilian film of all time and an arthouse hit in the United States. He shot his third feature-- the exuberant, erotic comedy Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands-- when he was all of It made leading lady Sonia Braga an exotic sex star for the better part of a decade. And its influence, particularly in interweaving culinary and carnal motifs, was evident in later imports such as Tampopo from Japan and Like Water for Chocolate from Mexico.
The Novel: "Dona Flor is, after Gabriela, cravo e canela Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon probably the best known of Amado's novels, some of its popularity having come from the success of the film version.
Film Notes -Dona Flor and her Two Husbands
It tells the story of one Floripedes Paiva, a young, lower middle-class cooking teacher in Salvador, Bahia, whose marriage to a promiscuous, ne'er-do-well gambler, Vadinho Guimaraes, is suddenly terminated by his premature death. Despite his disgraceful habits and constant exploitation of her, Flor is devastated, for the rogue was also her greatest source of pleasure and spiritual fulfillment with his zest for life and his taste for fine foods and uninhibited lovemaking.
Though modest and shy by nature, she had defied both family and friends to marry him and, with his death, she feels that her life has ended.
Determined never to remarry, she tries to repress her sexual desires, which she considers unbecoming in a loyal, grieving widow. Yet her erotic fantasies persist. The more she tries to dispel them, the stronger her neurosis becomes. She begins to perceive 'disgusting' sexual interpretations in everything that she sees and reads. In her sleep, she is tormented by ever more vivid erotic dreams.
Thus, although outwardly she appears to be content with her life of celibacy-- to be the 'perfect widow,' so to speak-- inwardly she is full of pent-up sexual frustration.
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Others have felt the work to be an allegory of the clash between the leftist populism of the s and the early s and the positivist military and technocratic currents that came to oppose it. The very chronology of the novel's publication has always raised certain suspicions as to what may have been Amado's underlying purpose in writing it.
But Dona Flor's superficial frivolity may belie the author's serious, underlying intent. Such interpolations are meant to recall, accentuate, and complement the work's immoderate measures of sex and sensuality. Ultimately, they also seek to invalidate middle-class inhibitions and to enhance the reader's gusto for the free, hedonistic lifestyle that the author associates with the Bahian poor.
The Film: "Modern Brazilian cinema can be dated from the Cinema Novo movement that burst upon that country's film industry in the early s.
His work, in many ways, is a window into the mulatto soul of Brazil. Amado's Bahia, with its sights, sounds, smells, and tastes and its sensuality , became the archetype for many as the most Brazilian of Brazilian regions. The translation of Gabriela into many languages quickly made it the best known Brazilian novel of all time.
Many critics have noted the profound irony of the impact of the small and big screen versions of Gabriela and Dona Flor and their star attraction. Much like Carmen Miranda in the s and s, Braga is white by Brazilian standards—that is, very light-skinned. While Miranda donned the traditional costume of the black Afro-Brazilian women of Bahia and made the sounds of samba a national and international pillar of Brazilian culture and identity, in the s Braga darkened her skin through makeup and tanning and rose to international stardom as the emblematic Brazilian mulata. After viewing her performances Jorge Amado himself declared her the living and breathing epitome of the Brazilian mulata.
Those who continue to hold to this myth see a Brazil fundamentally different than those who believe that the myth obscures a history of racial discrimination and inequality.
Doña Y Sus Dos Maridos (Doña Flor and Her Two Husbands)
As the debates over Brazilian identity have intensified and to some extent polarized Brazilians, it would be very hard today to produce a film comparable to Dona Flor in its ability to capture and communicate so effectively a single vision of national identity. Marshall Eakin is professor of history at Vanderbilt University. Embrafilme, I use "myth" in the anthropological sense—as ordered systems of social thought that embody the fundamental perceptions of a people about their social life.
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Knopf, The quote comes from Robin E. The English translation first appeared in as Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon , trans. James L. Please read our commenting and letters policy before submitting. Notes 1.