Brazil - a good neighbor
May 14, 2009 10:25 PM   Subscribe

If you've ever heard the song Aquarela do Brasil (often called simply "Brazil" -- here's my favourite cover), then you'll probably enjoy this classic 1942 animation which first made it famous. The clip is the finale from the feature Saludos Amigos (hello friends), created during a US government-funded goodwill tour of South America aimed at strengthening Pan-American relations, which some argue may have helped bring South America onto the side of the Allies in World War II.

The goodwill tour is the subject of the 2008 documentary film Walt & El Grupo.
posted by PercussivePaul (25 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
That's not the only excellent animation that song's inspired.
posted by MrVisible at 10:38 PM on May 14, 2009

*cough* *cough*
posted by Jeff_Larson at 11:09 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by tellurian at 11:29 PM on May 14, 2009

"You'll probably enjoy this classic 1942 animation.

This phrase is always true for me, no matter what the classic animation is.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:30 PM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

Wonderful post.
posted by CRM114 at 11:58 PM on May 14, 2009

looks like something that terry gilliam might find inspirational.

thx for this.
posted by el io at 12:28 AM on May 15, 2009

posted by sagwalla at 12:51 AM on May 15, 2009

Tav Falco's Panther Burns recorded a lively version on the 1981 album "Behind the Magnolia Curtain." I can't find a link.
posted by Hammond Rye at 12:59 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wow, that Brazil trailer might be the worst trailer in the history of cinema. I mean, I love the movie, but that trailer is a mangled, muddied mess, with no sense of rhythm in the cuts at all, it makes the movie look like it has absolutely no coherent story, and it's plain boring to watch.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:02 AM on May 15, 2009

Earlier this week I was thinking about The Three Caballeros which was the next animated film released after Saludos Amigos. It was one of my favorite films as a child and now I'm eager to watch it again.

Pt. 1 Pt. 2 Pt. 3 Pt. 4 Pt. 5 Pt. 6 Pt. 7 Pt. 8
posted by inconsequentialist at 1:13 AM on May 15, 2009 [4 favorites]

I came in to post the animation MrVisible has already posted! It is really good.

I love Gal Costa's version with a firm true love. Xavier Cugat's version is good for the kitschy fun. Here's an intimate version by João Gilberto.

The English lyrics are wildly different than the Portuguese original.

Frank Sinatra did a version that swings. The Pink Martini version owes something to his interpretation, I always think. Ella did a terrible job on it, in my opinion, but youtube has taken down the recording since the last time I went on a comparison spree. Here's a dude playing it on a bass flute. This version I love, naturally, because of the low brass.

There is more to the Good Neighbor program than just cartoons, of course - industrial assistance and agreements for airfields were a big part of it as well, of course. But open declaration of war was made after Brazilian ships (among them the SS Baependy, SS Araraquara, SS Annibal Benevolo, SS Itagiba, SS Arara, and a sailing ship, the Jacyra) were torpedoed off the coast of Brazil that war was declared. I seriously doubt that the Vargas government, which, despite the assistance they were offering the Allies in exchange for a considerable amount of financial and technological assistance had turned over a political rival's pregnant Jewish wife to Nazi Germany in their attempts to break the labor movement in Brazil, really cared that much about cartoons. Vargas himself is a fascinating character, and the Estado Novo is a really interesting period.
posted by winna at 1:19 AM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


(anyone else remember when cartoons were entertaining artistic labors of love and not just self-referential markov chain brain spam of mean spirited cultural references and ironically indifferent arrogance splayed across "flash quality graphics" with less subtlety and lazier animation than those Xerox-era Hanna-Barbera "amazing race" cartoons? Y'know, the ones with mutley?)

(p.s. GTFO My Lawn.)
posted by lkc at 1:24 AM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

Clicked on this post hoping for a nice bit of Cornelius and got so much more.

Good links in both posts and comment, especially the Disney/WWII tangent. Thanks for showing what I wouldn't have found for myself.
posted by Shave at 3:45 AM on May 15, 2009

The theme tune for the film Brazil was recorded by Kate Bush - its too good to work as background music so Terry Gilliam chose the instrumental version.
posted by Lanark at 4:37 AM on May 15, 2009

Ever since Terry Gilliam used that song it's become a favorite melody that keeps popping into my head out of nowhere.

inconsequentialist - Three Caballeros was a huge film in my childhood as well. Thanks for the links - I haven't seen that in years. This really makes me want to go back and watch more Disney shorts from this era.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:04 AM on May 15, 2009

My personal favourite - the 1947 cover by Django Reinhardt.
posted by Acey at 6:33 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thanks for posting this! The beginning is amazing and I love the part where Donald and José Carioca drink the caçhaca and smoke cigars. I'm guessing the drinking/smoking days of popular cartoon characters is pretty much over.

By the way the flute-led track that Donald and José samba to mid way through the short is Tico Tico No Fuba.
posted by rongorongo at 6:41 AM on May 15, 2009

Great post! It is an interesting time to look at the politics of 1940s Good Neighbor Policy. There were a lot of Nazi sympathizers in South and Central America, particularly amongst wealthy business owners with German connections. The Nazi propaganda machines were hitting these countries pretty heavily by the end of the 1930s. Meanwhile, the early days of World War II created complications in trade of natural resources between the United States and traditional trading parties across the ocean. The United States began looking to the countries south of the border, not only as suppliers for natural resources, but for potential allies in the event of an attack on American soil. Prior to this, the connections between the US and Latin American countries were tenuous and in some cases fragile. Many Americans viewed the countries down south as intimidating, primitive and scary. Good Neighbor Policy was developed as a way to build and improve the relationships between the United States and Latin American countries. Movies such as "Saludos Amigos" and entertainers such as Carmen Miranda were hugely popular during this time. It was considered patriotic to be a "Good Neighbor." There was also a huge trend in Latin American themed merchandise, artwork, fashion and music during World War II.

Saludos Amigos is one of the best examples of how Good Neighbor Policy was aimed at mainstream culture in the United States. And the songs are catchy as heck!
posted by pluckysparrow at 6:49 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Have not clicked on anything, but already I'm earwormed half to death. This is one of my favorite songs and it looks like the internet is about to steal my soul again. The nice way.

Thanks folks :)

(another reason that I pimp Metafilter to my friends. It's like a big, cool club full of smart happy people.)
posted by djrock3k at 7:24 AM on May 15, 2009

Here's the Ministry of Information sequence in Terry Gilliam's Brazil (trailer above) that was my first introduction to the song.

Another tangent: the South American trip had a profound influence on Mary Blair (previously covered on MeFi here) and this post features a lot of photographs and artwork she produced while there as well as the animated sequences she produced for Saludos Amigos.
posted by unsupervised at 7:57 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Doot, doot doooo........ doot da doot da...WHAT? Donald, where the hell did you come from?!
posted by nosila at 8:00 AM on May 15, 2009

This is great. I love all of these different versions, but that Django Reinhardt one is amazing. Off to find more of his work now.
posted by genefinder at 8:15 AM on May 15, 2009

Frank Sinatra loved Brazilian coffee. "Man, they got a gang of coffee in Brazil!"
Potato juice? Coffee ketchup? Coffee pickles? Somebody spiked Frank's Brazilian coffee!
posted by kirkaracha at 9:13 AM on May 15, 2009

This is Coffee
posted by The Whelk at 9:24 AM on May 15, 2009

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