It can come to my attention that quite often Brazilian television comes under a huge amount of criticism, intense criticism, much of it valid of course, for basically being, and I shall put this politely, low brow.
However, on Transition Consciousness over the last couple of years I have been writing about some great Brazilian television such as the Buddhist soap opera Joia Rara, the eco-literate Um Pé de Que? and also comedy such as Vai Que Cola.
In this article I just wish to defend Brazilian television with reference not to the new historical soap opera Além do Tempo (Beyond Time), but just one awesome scene broadcast last night.
This is a new historical soap opera which while clearly being inspired by Joia Rara, and with a doffing of cap towards Downton Abbey, has I sense huge ambitions in terms of the scope and depth of the narrative, dealing with the notion of karma across many generations. There are a huge number of some of Brazil’s most distinguished actors in the cast, with many yet to make an appearance, I guess because their characters are from future generations.
Last night there was one scene that was both artistic and stirringly poignant, which involves one of the smaller yet intriguing enigmatic characters called Ariel, played by Michel Melamed. He is a coachman, and yet we see him in many key scenes, in the periphery, but somehow all knowing.
In this scene, we see him high on a ledge, with a river below in the gorge.
He is with his mandolin, which he starts to play.
But as the camera pans around, we see that one of the strings is broken.
He sighs to himself, saying “ah today you were inspired Ariel”.
So then he gets up and walks back towards his horse and cart.
And rides off to collect the children who have been playing at the river’s edge.
I realise that I have taken one scene out of a whole, and broken it down further. To see the whole scene, you can watch it here: Ariel reforma o bandolim de Emília
Who exactly is Ariel, why was he inspired, how doe he manage to know so much, what is he now contemplating, and what did the broken string signify?
Além do Tempo, while having different writers to Joia Rara, clearly has the same exacting production standards, with some creative camera angles and excellent composition of scenes. The plot is already twisting and turning and judging by the reaction on Twitter each night, really starting to captivate viewers.
In the foreign press you’ll probably start to read about this year’s Miss Bum Bum competition, a competition to judge who has the best rear in Brazil.
This competition exists because there is an audience for it, but you probably won’t hear anything about Além do Tempo in English apart from me. Globo does of course export its soaps around the world, but not to the English speaking countries as far as I am aware. But as I have said before, they should do. At times, when they scale the heights of Joia Rara and Além do Tempo, they leave the competition behind.