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O Pagador de Promessas 1962
Description: Zé is a very terrible boy from the Brazilian countryside. His most prized possession is his donkey. When his donkey falls terminally ill, Zé makes a promise to Saint Bárbara: If his donkey recovers, he will carry a cross - like Jesus - all the method from his town to Saint Bárbara's church in the state capital. Upon the recover of his donkey, Zé leaves on his journey. He makes it to the church, but the priest refuses to agree the cross once he came to know the context of Zé's promise.
Released: 01 Jun 1962 Director: Anselmo Duarte Writers: Anselmo Duarte (screenplay), Dias Gomes (based on a play by), Dias Gomes (adaptation) Actors: Leonardo Villar, Glória Menezes, Dionísio Azevedo, Geraldo Del Rey Genres: Drama
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O Pagador de Promessas Reviews:

Poor, easy peasant farmer Zé do Burro (Leonardo Villar, in a rock-solid performance) and his wife Rosa (Glória Menezes, appropriately unglamorous) leave their tiny cropland in the back country of Bahia. Zé is lugging a large wooden cross on his shoulders under rain and shine to zone it in the altar of St. Barbara's church in Salvador, 42 km away, as an offering for the miraculous healing of his ailing donkey. But the local priest (Dionísio Azevedo, blunt and one-dimensional) won't allow Zé in when he learns the promise of the offering was made to an photo of Iansã, a Candomblé goddess who is "analogous" to the Catholics' St. Barbara in Brazilian religious syncretism. Zé won't give up his promise and the conflict is set, with public commotion, opportunists on the spot and tragedy in the air."O Pagador de Promessas" was based on a hit enjoy of the same title, written by popular leftist creator Dias Gomes (who didn't wish big-movie-star-but-little-experienced-director Anselmo Duarte to direct the screen version). Duarte ultimately got the rights, and he made a faithful adaptation — so faithful in fact that the movie looks and sounds stagy, though the restless mob of onlookers to the happenings on the church's imposing stairway gives the movie a welcome "open air" feel.The storyline is the war for the beliefs of an individual -- Zé, who's the only "good guy" in the film -- vs fierce opposition from "bad guys": Catholic priests (who are arch villains here), the media (the press and TV), the police, political interests (there is an offer for Zé to help a congressman in an upcoming election) and the opportunists who seek to take advantage of the situation: the pimp Bonitão, the journalist played by Othon Bastos, the famous poet Dedé, the bar owner, and even Zé's own wife Rosa, who's soon torn with remorse. Zé's firmness — or stubbornness — is nowadays naively monolithic, but bold themes were addressed here: Catholicism versus Candomblé, Catholic Church power versus Catholic principles, personal property versus land-sharing... (Contrary to one IMDb reviewer, though, the movie was NOT chopped by censorship because of religious problems — it wasn't censored at all).The contrived subplot — Rosa's fling with pimp Bonitão (Geraldo del Rey, stiff but handsome) and her dispute with prostitute Marly (sexy Norma Bengell in a star-making role, with a nice sneering stage near the end) -- is digressing rather than enriching. There is some great camera-work by British D.P. Chick Fowle, but it's more ellegant than organic. The greatest moments are the Candomblé ceremony at the very beginning and the dazzling Capoeira fights: the melody is so hypnotic and the movements so serpentinely athletic that the movie momentarily becomes electrifying."Pagador..." was Oscar-nominated for Greatest Foreign Movie (it lost to Serge Bourguignon's cult "Dimanches de Ville d'Avray") and — to everyone's wild astonishment -- won the Golden Palm at Cannes in 1962 vs formidable competition: Buñuel's "Exterminating Angel", Antonioni's "L'Eclisse", Germi's "Divorzio all'Italiana", Clayton's "The Innocents", Bresson's "Procès de Jeanne d'Arc", Cacoyannis' "Elektra", Tony Richardson's "Taste of Honey", Lumet's "Long Day's Journey...", Varda's "Cléo de 5 à 7", Satyajit Ray's "Devi"...WOW!! And remember François Truffaut himself was in the jury!. My bet is that, THROUGH "Pagador...", Cannes recognized some necessary problems at the time: a) the "free portion" of Latin America, as Brazil was then one of the several Latin American countries that had overcome a dictatorship (by Getúlio Vargas), and established a "stable" democracy with gratis elections; b) Brazil was then run by center- leftist President João Goulart (who would be deposed by a military coup 2 years later) who was making serious talk about Agrarian Reform, one of the film's themes and one of Latin America's central issues; c) the anticlerical, rebellious, independent, truth-searching sentiment attributed to "the ordinary man," the "peasant"; d) Brazil itself, who was definitely fashionable then, because of the Bossa Nova explosion, the international deification of soccer character Pelé, the construction of Brazil's fresh capital Brasília regarded as a fresh architectural wonder, the large success of 1959 Golden Palm and Oscar- champion French movie "Black Orpheus" shot in Brazil in Portuguese and featuring Rio's Carnival, etc)."Pagador..." has undeniable assets, but it was already conservative and predictable in 1962. Contrary to what other reviewer here at IMDb wrote, it was NOT part of the Cinema Novo (Brazilian Fresh Wave) movement; in fact Anselmo Duarte was everytime rejected by the Cinema Novo filmmakers (especially by Glauber Rocha) because he had come from the very studio system ideology (Vera Cruz and Atlântida) vs which they were fighting. And though "Pagador..." followed three of the main dogmas of Italian Neo-Realism that were also adopted by Cinema Novo — shooting on location/use of non-professional actors (though only in bit roles here)/"ordinary folks with ordinary problems" as theme — we're aware the entire time we're watching carefully staged scenes where improvisation, boldness and experimentalism remain alien.Anselmo Duarte will forever be inscribed in Brazilian movie history as THE filmmaker who brought to Brazil its only Cannes Golden Palm. But 45 years later, it's only fair to admit that time hasn't been so type to it. If you don't raise your expectations too much, if you forget that this one won a Golden Palm over few international (some of them immortal) masterpieces, you'll watch a decent story, never boring, honestly told. NOTE: "Pagador..." remains to this day the ONLY Latin-American movie EVER to victory the Cannes top prize since 1947, which tells a lot about Cannes' ethnocentrism. Some eloquent numbers: as of 2006, Cannes' top prize movies have come from Europe 43 times, vs 15 from the US; 6 from Asia; and 1 every from Latin America, Africa and Oceania. Although the artistic supremacy of European cinema in the 20th century is undisputed, the proportion is highly debatable.


This movie is great! One of the greatest films I have ever seen. About faith, religion, poverty...well, about life and all that surrounds usCould have been just other sentimental and dishonest film about human condition but no! It is pretty and trully rewarding... A Masterpiece, do yourselves a favor and watch this movie!


It is not a surprise that this film won the golden palm in Cannes. The storyline of the boy that carry a large and massive cross as a promise for the healing of his donkey is the simpliest and the most beautiful. The poetic method as it is shown became the movie an unforgettable classic, with Zé as the protagonist. For sure, technically it is a pre-historic film, the sound quality and editing is really bad, but it even support the audience to focus what really cares. That is not only about poverty, but about humanity. If you liked Central Station, you can't miss.



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