Accepted paper:

Malandros and otários: the use of samba in Tropa de Elite and Tropa de Elite: O Inimigo Agora É Outro

Author:

Hans Hess (University of Bristol)

Paper short abstract:

The use of samba in the films Tropa de Elite (2007) and Tropa de Elite: O Inimigo Agora É Outro (2010), focuses on the type of samba sometimes called the samba malandro. The analyses of selected scenes in these movies will explore how samba can portray the characters of malandros and otários.

Paper long abstract:

The use of samba in the films Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad, 2007) and Tropa de Elite: O Inimigo Agora É Outro (Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, 2010), focuses on the type of samba sometimes called the samba malandro. The samba malandro (= hoodlum samba) foregrounds the culture of lower-class Brazilians who live in the shantytowns, semi-marginal people who are unemployed, misfits in society: the malandros. This spivish life, including resistance to work and the refinement of skills to deceive people who become their otários (suckers, fools, the victims of the malandros), is portrayed in both films, and samba is associated with such features in both films as well. The analyses of selected scenes in Elite Squad will explore how samba can portray the characters of malandros and otários, and how these roles are inverted throughout the story. As a key musical feature, syncopation in samba will be analyzed as a reflection of the smooth talk of the malandro articulating his next moves to find his otário. The aim of this paper is to explore how the theme of the malandros and otários is depicted by samba in these two films (among many other Brazilian films). The analyses show how musical semiotics can help films to depict, interpret, contextualise and evaluate cultural, political and social features of recent Brazilian history.

panel P32
Literature and other arts in contemporary Brazil: a (cross)cultural review