Vidas Secas (Barren Lives) (1963)




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Filmed with a strong sense of compassion for the impoverished and an underlying hatred for the injustice which forces them into the lives they must live, this is one of the first works from Brazil's Cinema Novo. A poor Brazilian family struggle to earn a living when they take a job overseeing the livestock of a wealthy rancher. They move into an abandoned house, and their fortunes begin to take an upward turn. The father is duped into a card game with a crooked local policeman. The ranch hand protests, and a fight ensues that results in his beating by the cop. Despite being the victim of injustice, the man believes there should be some semblance of law and order and makes no protest about the incident. A severe drought has the man moving on from the ranch with his family to earn their living elsewhere. ~ Dan Pavlides, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Vidas Secas (Barren Lives)

All Critics (3) | Top Critics (1)

One of the best of the early Cinema Novo films.

Sep 30, 2006 | Full Review…

A powerfully emotive portrait... this seminal film of the [Cinema Novo] movement is as naturalistic and heartwrenchingly earnest as any Vittorio De Sica weepie.

Apr 25, 2006 | Full Review…

Like Ford's The Grapes of Wrath, another oft-misread seditious text, the film seems primed for a revolution.

Jan 21, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Vidas Secas (Barren Lives)


One of the most important Brazilian films ever made is this classic, unrestrained story of poverty and hardship as faced by a family living in a hellish, barren land and depicted with all the rawness that it needs - including a notable absence of sentimentality and even music.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

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