Barren Lives

Director: Nelson Pereira dos Santos
Year Released: 1963
Rating: 3.0

A dirt-poor family (the husband, his wife, their two children, a parrot and a dog) travel around Brazil looking for work, and everywhere they go they meet conflict and cruelty. This stark, nasty depiction of the lives of workers - which echoes Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath - is overbearing at times (the father has to shoot the family's beloved dog at one point - at another he is brutally beaten by the police) - and some of its 'poetic moments' are a bit strained (there are a few too many shots of birds flying and swaying trees) - but made with affection for its core family, who are just trying to survive. It concludes with a (thankfully) optimistic note as the clan heads to the city, a testament to the resilience of the Brazilian people.