Monday, August 25, 2008

Maria Bethania: Music Is Perfume

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Brazilian Bio-Pic Takes Loving Look at Musical Career of Legendary Samba Singer

Maria Bethania is a legendary samba singer whose siren call has stirred the souls of her fellow Brazilians for generations. Now in her sixties, the full-throated diva proves here that she is still capable of delivering a ballad in heartrending fashion. The performance-driven picture features plenty of concert footage, offset by interviews with friends, family (including her brother, composer Caetano Veloso) and Maria herself.
Her career began in 1964 and has endured enough for her to release 30 albums thusfar. The movie amounts to the cinematic equivalent of a fanzine, a delightful musical montage during which Maria meanders through the classic hits from her extensive repertoire.
Offstage, Maria is at her best while sharing her feelings about music, such as when she describes samba as “sadness dancing. That is the very essence of samba.” Equally evocative are the moments when she talks about the genre’s history, describing it as “a black people’s lament.” Acknowledging a debt owed to African slaves, she goes on to say that “We were colonized by the Portuguese, but our heritage, the richness of our music, is black.”
And to think I always blamed it on the bossa nova.

Very Good (3 stars)
In Portuguese with subtitles.
Running time: 82 minutes
Studio: ArtMattan Productions

To see a trailer of Maria Bethania: Music Is Perfume, visit:


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