Set in the drought-plagued Brazilian Sertão in 1940, Black God, White Devil explores the climate of superstition, physical and spiritual terrorism, and fear that gripped the country. The central characters, Manuel and Rosa, are on the run, and move credulously from allegiance to allegiance until they finally learn that the land belongs neither to god nor devil, but to the people themselves. The film’s storyline, somewhere between folk ballad and contemporary myth, contains a multitude of references to Brazilian history and culture. But Rocha's project is fundamentally political, and completely unambiguous: he faces up to the contradictions of his country in an effort to understand, to crush mystiques, and to improve it.
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