: : : Four Days in September

Story

In 1969, the democratically elected government of Brazil was toppled and a military dictatorship took its place. The junta ruled through terror and intimidation, torturing political enemies, controlling the press, and severely curtailing freedoms. A group of Che Guevara-worshipping Marxist radicals (the MR-8) plotted to kidnap an American diplomat (Alan Arkin) to force the government to meet their demands. The college radicals hooked up with two senior revolutionaries, an avuncular veteran of the Spanish Civil War and a cold, ruthlessly intense younger man who becomes their commandant. What could easily have become an overwrought drama is instead played out in understatement. The middle-class radicals falter more than once when it looks like they will indeed have to execute their captive; their counterparts in the government's secret police grapple with their consciences when it comes to torture and terror. Arkin is excellent as Charles Elbrick, the diplomat; his conversations with his abductors bring out his humanity as the deadline draws near. Overall, the film--which receieved a Best Foreign-Language Oscar nomination--has a sense of tension and claustrophobia that is as oppressive as the clammy Rio de Janeiro humidity. This is a thoughtful political drama with emotional depth, well-drawn characters, and excellent direction. (Incidentally, the radicals' commitment paid off in 1979, when Brazil's democracy was restored and all political prisoners were given amnesty.) Stuart Copeland provides the excellent score, along with '60s-period bossa nova music. --Jerry Renshaw

Cast

Alan ArkinCharles Burke Elbrick
Fernanda TorresMaria
Caio JunqueiraJulio
Selton MelloOswaldo
Caroline KavaElvira Elbrick
Fisher StevensMowinkel
Fernanda MontenegroDona Margarida

  • Genre: Drama Movies
  • Director: Bruno Barreto
  • Producer: Buena Vista
  • Length: 110 min
  • Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
  • Theatrical Release
    North AmericaJan 30, 1998
  • Ratings
    North AmericaR
  • DVD Release
    North AmericaApr 8, 2003
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