How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman

Film - Feature | October 19 | 7-8:20 p.m. |  Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

 Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

A slyly entertaining mixture of anthropology, black humor, gorgeous color photography, sixteenth-century history, political allegory, ubiquitous nudity, and unsettling prophecy. A Frenchman captured by Indians tries nobly to integrate himself with the savage mind, but true incorporation into the tribe is ultimately possible only in one way: through the stomach. Dos Santos’s film nearly caused a riot when shown at Cannes and finally had to be withdrawn—officially for reasons of “excessive nudity,” although many observers felt that the problem was the naked lunch with a French entree. This is a wicked metaphor of European cultural and economic cannibalism turning to genocide, but also, as Robert Stam points out, a commentary on the dictatorship’s own Transamazonian Highway that provided an “escape valve” for the northeast’s poor (as seen in Barren Lives) to move south and help exploit the Amazon region and its previously unknown peoples.

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