labrys, études féministes/ estudos feministas
julho/ 2017- junho 2018 /juillet 2017-juin 2018

Aquarius: A Film About Memory, City And Feminine Soul

Tânia Siqueira Montoro and Nayara Helou Chubaci Güércio



This paper analyses, within a perspective of interactions connecting female memory, city and everyday events, the long feature film Aquarius (Brazil, Kleber Mendonça Filho, 146 min, 2016). The dwelling is the foundation to the conflicts of the protagonist Clara. The Casetti and Di Chio method (2007) was chosen as inspiration for the three levels in which the methodology of analysis  regarding the film’s narrative will be approached. The analytical categories “city”, “collective space”, “old age women”, “habitational matters”, “memories” and “everyday events” reside at the core of this analysis. City and the female body are shuffled in the experiences of public spaces and the fear that crosses and limits the relationship between private and collective space.

Keywords: Aquarius. City. Gender. Body.


Este paper analisa, sob uma perspectiva de interações entre memória, cidade, corpo e cotidianidade feminina, o longa metragem Aquarius (Brasil, Kleber Mendonça Filho,146m, 2016). O espaço do habitar alicerça a construção do protagonismo dos conflitos da personagem Clara. A metodologia de análise da narrativa fílmica foi desenvolvida em três níveis inspirados no método de Casetti e Di Chio (2007). As categorias “cidade”, “espaço coletivo”, “velhice feminina”, “questões habitacionais”, “memórias” e “cotidianidades” agregam o eixo central desta análise. A cidade e o feminino se embaralham na vivência do espaço público e do medo que atravessa e limita a relação entre o espaço privado e coletivo.

Palavras-chaves: Aquarius. Cidade. Gênero. Corpo.




This paper analyses, within a perspective of interactions connecting female memory, city and everyday events, the Brazilian long feature film Aquarius (Brazil, Kleber Mendonça, 146m, 2016), which represented Brazil at the 2016[1] Cannes Film Festival. To identify the varied forms of power relations amongst the inhabitants of a collective urban space it is examined not only the uncredited role that cities usually play on films but, above all, the multiple and significative interactions between one of the most artistic cultural devices of modern day, cinema, and the most important form of social organization of the XXI century, the city.  Since its creation, cinema has established an intimate relationship with cities. According to Leonardo Name (2003, s/p), “Cinema was not the great spectacle of the past century only by excellency; it was also essentially an  urban source of entertainment since its birth, and owes much of its nature to the development of cities.” Therefore, it can be claimed that cinema, besides being a collective art form, is also a civic practice; a setting which contemplates and unmasks multiple landscapes, including the urban one.

  The city has not only nurtured cinema, but has also grown alongside it. As every cinematographic shot was created, a concrete column was built; as each crane was lifted, a skyscraper reached for new heights; every time a new editing method invaded the silver screen, a different bridge connected shores.

The city, therefore, besides taking in the cinematographic art, has also become its muse. A few foreign films may be mentioned as an example of this, such as  Hiroshima mon amour (France, Alain Resnais,  90 min, 1959); Cléo from 5 to 7 (France/Italy, Agnès Varda,  90 min,1962); Dolgie Provody/ A Long Goodbye (USSR, Kira Muratova, 97 min, 1971); Fellini’s Roma (Italy, Federico Fellini, 120 min, 1972), Mystery Train (USA, Jim Jarmusch,  110 min, 1989); Dah (Iran, Abbas Kiarostami, 91 min, 2002); Father and Son (France/Italy/Russia/Germany/Holland, Alexander Sokurov, 97 min, 2003); District 9 (South Africa/USA/New Zealand/Canada, Neill Blomkamp, 112 min, 2009); national films also worth noting are Central Station (Brazil/France, Walter Salles, 113 min, 1998), City of God (Brazil/France, Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund, 130 min, 2002); Lower City (Brazil/UK, Sérgio Machado, 110 min, 2005) and Neighboring Sounds (Brazil, Kleber Mendonça Filho, 131 min, 2012).

For Name (2003), the manner in which spaces are utilized and portrayed in films mobilizes meanings which may contribute — intentionally or otherwise —  to the spreading of a set of beliefs and values connected to structures of cultural, political and economic domination. “Films reflect the debates surrounding a society, emerging issues, and new aesthetics as well as ideologies” (NAME, s/p). Therefore, one can understand the necessity to reflect upon the city’s role as a vehicle bearing and spreading discourse and ideology. Aquarius exposes to the audience the vices and virtues of urban life.

Clara (Sonia Braga), the film’s protagonist, is a retired journalist and musical critic, a survivor of breast cancer since the 1970s, a widow of 10 years, and the mother of three: two men and one woman. She owns one of the Aquarius building’s flats, located at the Boa Viagem Avenue in Recife. The flat has belonged to the protagonist’s family for generations, and has been the stage for several female adventures, such as sexual experiences, birthday parties, the loss of loved ones, skirmishes between generations, and the struggle against cancer. With the purpose of demolishing the old building Aquarius and building another skyscraper at its place, the Bonfim constructor — responsible for the project and proprietor of the other flats in the edifice — begins to harass Clara at different angles, each more intense and perturbing, in the hopes of pressuring her into selling the bygone apartment which still keeps the company from moving forward with its plans of housing speculation. Clara, however, refuses to be rid of her home, this way determining the conflict steering the plot. 

How fond the character Clara is of the city of Recife and, particularly, of the space surrounding the Aquarius building, is noticeable by the beginning of the movie. On the first act, Clara — already an elderly woman — can be seen letting her hair down and diving into the sea. The ocean, much like the Aquarius, composes the landscape of Recife, as well as fills the character’s history. Clara, her family, her friends, her neighbors, the fireman Roberval (Irandhir Santos); they all belong to this affectionate landscape of living and cohabiting the city.

According to Janice Caiafa (2002), cohabiting a city could bring an intensification of the experience of yore as an expression of a possible world. “The communication will happen precisely in the context of collisions and of the expanded experience of these other worlds, these margins”. (CAIAFA, 2002, p. 98). 

On a press conference held on August 29, 2016, in São Paulo, Aquarius’s director Kleber Mendonça Filho talks about his preference for shooting films in the city of Recife, his hometown[2], besides his concern with transmitting faithfully what is seen beyond the silver screen, rather sterilising reality. The director believes in the importance of the element of identification “city”, in the personality of the space: “We see all these movies where people’s homes look like an Tok&Stok[3] showroom. You can recognize realism in the movie on small objects, actions or words”, Mendonça Filho argues, according to the event coverage done by the website Cineweb[4].

The dwelling space holds the foundation to the construction of the conflicts to the character of Clara, who denies to fit into gender or age roles. Clara is a mature, retired, well off, beautiful, sexual, and secure woman, who affronts a society still based on patriarchal, masculine role models. A 66 year old woman should “stay home”, “listen to her children”, “accept the views of the majority”, besides “behaving like a proper, respectful lady”. In this case, the character breaks these stereotypes: she lives alone; makes her own decisions; is opinionated; has physical limitations which subject her to nothing; enjoys wandering around; loves swimming on the “dangerous”[5] waters of the Boa Viagem beaches; listens to the most diverse music; smokes a “bifter”; delights in seeing love and pleasure happening; attempts to be a good grandmother, mother, housewife and friend; and more, remains a sexual woman.

It is interesting to notice the fact that the protagonist Clara fearlessly swimming in the — shark infested — waters which bathe the shore of Boa Viagem is one example of the character’s courage, besides being a preview to the land sharks she must face throughout the plot: the perfidious, unjustified actions of the construction company, the rejection of a potential sexual partner, the fear of urban violence, the verbal violence of a former neighbor’s son, and even the misconceptions of her own family.

Clara worked her entire life as a journalist and a music critic, which generated great quarrel in her family. Because of her career, Sônia Braga’s character had to spend part of her children’s childhood overseas, studying and writing a book about the renowned Brazilian composer Villa-Lobos. On a scene where all of the children gather at their mother’s apartment[6], Ana Paula (Maeve Jinkings) betrays all of the resentment she feels in the face of Clara’s absence by insinuating that the family’s patrimony was not earned thanks to her mother, but to her father. Clara is visibly hurt, and chants verses of Nerves of steel[7] as a way to express her feelings the best way she knows, through musical poetry. Indeed, it is necessary for Clara to demonstrate having such “nerves of steel”, for not only does the vile construction company persecute her, but her own family — partly — also takes part in doing so.

On this sequence, the generational conflict between the senescent woman and her children, especially Ana Paula, the only female child, is stark vivid. Clara makes it explicit that the value of the Aquarius building goes beyond its monetary value. To her, the flat represents a piece of who she is; she cradles it in her body, history, and identity. Moreover, not only hers, but that of her children and family as a whole, which she makes abundantly clear. That way, Clara breaks — though momentarily — the age barrier between her and her heirs, reminiscing them of the importance the building has — or should have — on their doting memories of a familiar space.

From the contextualization above, the movie Aquarius and its protagonist, Clara, were chosen as the object of a film analysis that will make use of the methodology proposed by Francesco Casseti and Federico Di Chio (1998), which observes three level in narrative layers:

"[...]the first is destined to the content of what is represented through images and sounds: the sets, the costumes, the characters, the roles and actions which structure the drama, the way objects occupy this or that space on a frame. A second level is destined to the modality of representation – what appears peculiarly, whether through one or more details highlighted, or by the framing of the characters, by the option of what and who is on the foreground, or even by the capture of the representation’s subjectiveness. And, lastly, the level of representation set by the establishment of nexus between what is seen, what was seen or heard, the individuals/characters inaugurating new behaviour, or the individual/characters carrying on with their actions. (...) el nível de los nexos que, en la representacion cinematográfica, unen una imagen côn la otra que la precede o que la sigue. (CASETTI;DI CHIO, 1998: 126 in: MONTORO, 2006: 22).

The analytical categories of “city”, “collective space”, “female senescence”, “habitational matters”, “memories” and “everyday events” reside at the core of this analysis but come from the materiality of the narrative content. It is understood that the idea common sense has of space is usually limited to the field of material constructions, external to the body. However, space configures the mental space, crowded by memories, expectations, affections, and experiences lived and longed for just the same. In order to complete this analysis, a series of filmic sequences which are considered synthesizing of the narrative’s conductive unit was selected.

Filmic analysis: cinema, sets and characters


Picture 1 - Aquarius Film (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016) - Frame: 00:26:21

Source: Print screen from the DVD of the movie Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016).



The sequence begins with the protagonist Clara on the foreground, in focus, sleeping on a hammock close to the window at home. In the background, it is possible to see a young man — also in focus — wearing a formal shirt and trousers who is taking pictures of the building’s façade[8].

Next, from a jump cut, in plongée — as though the spectators were hidden witnesses inside Clara’s apartment, — the young man can can be seen holding a folder while talking to two other men, one elderly, and the other middle-aged.

Although the soundtrack acts as the story’s second protagonist, at that moment it is absent, much like the audio of said conversation. Only background noises can be heard, which incorporates typically urban elements such as car driving past the building, cars honking, and elements specific to the location, like the sound of crashing waves.

Picture 2 - Aquarius Film (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016) - Frame: 00:27:35 

Source: Print screen from the DVD of the movie Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016).

Clara, who can be seen at a medium shot, is awaken by the doorbell ringing[9]. The character wears white, the same colour which covers her walls and the hammock upon which she was resting. Unlike what is commonly believed, white is not the absence of colours, but rather the sum of all shades. Clara is exactly this way: a complete palette of colours, not a unidimensional, colourless character. That, however, does not mean Clara is naive, but, in reality, it implies her unawareness of future events which will still cause many troubles during the course of the narrative. 

              In “As formas do silêncio - no movimento dos sentidos”, Eni Pulcinelli Orlandi explains that:

[…] there is a dimension to silence that goes back to the character a language has of  being unconcluded: every saying has a fundamental relationship to the non-saying. This dimension leads us to appreciating the erroneousness of the senses (its migration); the will of the “one” has a dimension of silence which brings back the language’s character of being unconcluded. (ORLANDI, 2007: 13).

This sensation a language transmits of being unfinished which is present in the silence can be experienced with the images on the long take, considering that, at first, this photographic resource extends the imagetic instants without previously announcing its end. Therefore, the scene develops in a way that will make the audience experience it not only as outside spectators, but also as characters of the plot, as residents of the Aquarius. There is no movement of the character in scene, only of the camera’s look, ratifying a language’s quality of being incomplete. The characters actions is what might cease the continuous movement of images, concluding at last the dynamic of becoming and the atmosphere of suspense which   flows through the entire shot.

The silence is broken when the ringing doorbell echoes through the flat. However, just before hearing it, it is possible to hear a keychain rattling subtly. The clinking of the keys is a soft reminder that the power of free transit in the Aquarius does not belong to Clara. Here, it becomes noticeable that habitational matters go beyond the character’s private property. It is as though the constructing company is implying its domain not only upon the building, but also upon the protagonist herself.

The protagonist stands up, moves towards the door and answers it to address those who need to speak to her. On the medium shot, it is possible to see Diego (Humberto Carrão), the same boy who took pictures with his mobile phone outside, and two other men, Mr. Geraldo (Fernando Teixeira) and another young man (who is not identified by name), all of whom were seen below the flat’s window moments before. On a medium shot, the characters are observed by the spectator, initiating a shot/reverse shot sequence throughout the entire dialogue:

"Mr. Geraldo: Would you let us in?

Clara: It depends, Mr. Geraldo. If you came up here to discuss my proposal about the purchase of the flat above… I sent that proposal and you didn’t send a reply. But I imagine you really are a very busy person, right? Is it about that, Mr. Geraldo?

Mr. Geraldo: Yeah… we came here to talk to you. […] A nice chat, eye-to-eye, which is my kind of thing. We have brought you a counter-proposal.

Clara: That’s great! From the apartment above?

Mr. Geraldo (laughing ironically): No. That talk we had previously is about the purchase of YOUR apartment.

Clara: Oh! It’s about the sale of THIS apartment! I’m not selling, Mr. Geraldo, you already know that.


Clara: Let’s work this out for once, Mr. Geraldo. My apartment is not for sale. I’m not selling, alright? I appreciate the visit, but… Cheers.


Diego: My name is Diego. I’m head of this project now, which, by the way, is my first project. I’m super proud. I feel comfortable in saying that we have great news. And I’m gonna tell you why. The first one is that the project now is called “Aquarius”. (Diego freezes with a smile).


Clara: Did you say “Aquarius”?

Diego: It’s the NEW “Aquarius”.The idea is to maintain the same name of the building that existed in this lot before.

Clara (containing her anger): “Existed”?

Diego (clueless): It’s a way to preserve the building’s memory, right. It wasn’t on the initial project, but with new offer came more good news from this proposal.

Clara (ironic): Yeah… The building still exists. So much so that you’re there, leaning on it.

Diego (apparently embarrassed): It was a mistaken way to express myself.


Clara (smiling, holding her laughter): Well, thanks for the visit…

Mr. Geraldo (interrupting Clara): We just want to make it clear that we’re always open… to dialogue.

(Diego nods).

Clara: Okay. Thank you. (closing the door) Excuse me.

Mr. Geraldo: See you soon.

(the folder with the constructor’s proposal is pushed into the apartment from under the door. Clara pushes it out. The action is repeated twice more before Clara, angry and irritated, opens the door and is faced with a smiling Diego).

Diego (embarrassed): In case you want to read the project more calmly... (put the folder down again). Thank you, Clara.

(Clara shuts the door again and locks it)[10].

00:28:57 e 00:32:26.""


The moment Clara shuts the door for the first time — before the sequence in which the folder is pushed under the door — the framing chosen is a close-up of the character’s feet. The men are all wearing dress shoes, whereas Clara is bare-feet[11]. This choice of costume/set represents the power relations between the force of real estate speculation and the citizen-subject, as well as the asymmetries between the male and female.

Picture 3 - Aquarius Film (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016) - Frame: 00:31:07.

Source: Print screen from the DVD of the movie Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016).


There are three men, whilst the protagonist is alone, and although her housekeeper, Ladjane (Zoraide Coleto), arrives posteriorly, she does get involved.  Clara complains about her lack of support by asking where her employee had been.  Here, one can perceive the need for female solidarity even in distinct social layers. The bond, at that moment, is of the feminine and of maturity. In light of Montoro (2006, p. 25), it may be heeded that “the identification, before seen as monolithic, now disperses through a broad field of positionalities”.

It becomes evident then the symbolic violence suffered by Clara simply for being who she is: a senior woman living in a patriarchal, sexist society which worships youth. A society, therefore, that excludes women and elders, qualifying them as mad or incompetent; in short, as someone at the border of the productive sector and of the innovations necessary to consumption.

The relation between masculine (public space) and feminine (domestic space) is presented on scene informing the relational and spatial reading of gender asymmetries. The female actions are observed on a private and domestic setting, the apartment door working as the boundary and mediator of the house and street on the ensemble of audiovisual representation. According to Tania Montoro and Denise Cavalcante (2011, p. 50), the public and private spheres belong to the same universe capable of allowing diverse relations on a permanent construction:

For Habermas (1984), the private sector also comprehends the public sphere, for it is itself a public sphere of private persons. The public sphere is understood as “the sphere of private persons gathered on a public”. At the conception of Hannah Arendt’s public space (1993), elements of the private space sharply project themselves. For her, the activities which serve for the conservation of private life may establish the characteristics of public space. (MONTORO;CAVALCANTE, 2011, p. 50).

Clara is an obstacle within the new spatial, social demarcation. The protagonist is the unwanted counterpoint that needs to be quickly “resolved”. What is hers belongs to her no more. Legally, she still holds the registry of ownership of the state; imaginarily, however, her habitat has already been taken. The power of the black shoes is larger than that of the bare feet of an old woman who is alone.

Clara is not singularly in opposition to the three men, nor is she only against the construction company. In reality, the character is battling an entire system of hierarchies that oppresses and subjugates the weakest, voids individualities, rejects the different, and that, as a consequence, ostracizes the old and feminine by vetoing its powers of speech and annihilating its freedom to act, react, react, think and even transit.

The protagonist is interrupted countless times; although she bids them a myriad of goodbyes, claims with certitude she has no plan to sell her space, her words are treated like the sound of the sea at the beginning of the sequence: heard as background noise, and not as something to be contemplated. Clara, from the contractor’s point of view, no longer belongs to the modern reality of the building Aquarius. On the contrary, her destiny is nothing more than what is expected of a senescent woman: the waiting for the imminent end. To those men, Clara is the termite-infested Aquarius, not the skyscraper with a sea view.      

2. City, body, and cinema in aquarius

 Throughout the film, the city can be seen as a weapon against the mature feminine. Violence and fear are present in different scenes. The fear of robbery,[12] the fear of others, the fear of rape, the fear of dying of cancer, the fear of loneliness, and the fear of powerful men.

Picture 4 - Aquarius Film (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016) - Frame: 02:06:04.  

Source: Print screen from the DVD of the movie Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016).

The polarised images of the protagonist’s experience in the city, with its power of impact, have been used on melodrama classics before, weaving a powerfully symbolic parallel between the dualities of the narratives, and the dualities of the scenery where the plot unfolds. These images of a broken metropolis expose like the polarity that is a multiple experience of urban life, laying bare such duality — strategic and functionally — for the narrative economy of Aquarius’ protagonist. This duality is also presented in the protagonist’s actions: she is an old woman but, unlike expectations, still feels sexual desire. On a party, after seducing a man (by looking), he approaches her and, after noting that one of Clara’s breasts does not fill up her bra entirely, he walks away[13]. This filmic fragment works as a central element on the articulation of affectionate engagement, plotting a dialogic approach between the universe of the character’s body and the shared universe of the city; along the lines of: “with a glance I seduced the masculine, which looked at my mutilated body (14) and shunned, fled, abandoned me”. The sundered feminine body between seduction and desire; between individual marks and the experiences of the feminine everyday events in the city.

Picture 5 - Aquarius Film (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016) - Frame: 01:38:23.

Source: Print screen from the DVD of the movie Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016).

The field of architecture and urbanism is progressively more concerned about the the issue of appropriating the architectonic space — whether for a social or symbolic standpoint — taking into consideration the perception that spatial solutions vary according to the multiple necessities generated from demand and space appropriation.

  Lucia Leitão (2004) claims that:

"The space of architecture is intimately connected to the idea of experiencing space, not only regarding its collective symbolic importance but, above all, in the variations of personal sensations — from where its subjectivity derives — that the private appropriation of this space provokes "(LEITÃO, 2004: 27).

The City organises itself as such starting at the shared experience — public and private, historic and quotidian — of the life of those who inhabit it, that is, “ an indissoluble relation to the way of being and to the behaviour of people”. (LEITÃO, 2004: 27). If the city is a mirror to the means of social and collective subjugation and appropriation of the human experience — in this movie's case, of the experience of free mature woman — it presupposes a narrativization upon such experience as an impulse to symbolise, to make sense of urban life itself. On contemporary times,  such look is crossed through the mediated frame of mediatic narratives more and more; these conform, though not deterministically, the life of subjects on urban spaces itself.

The representation of a dual city, of a dual body, of a dual space as the stage of the cinematographic narrative is a strategy of appropriation of duality itself to make contemporary the matters regarding the female body.It is a reductionism of the multiplicity to a polarised scenario; ironically, however, it is about a reduction which ends up mirroring what is complex.

Final considerations

The threat of the termite — surreptitious, furtive, until it becomes menacing and, possibly, deadly — is a metaphor for the harassment Clara is subjected to for the whole film. Not only that, but the termites also embody the idea of death which follows the human being throughout its entire life, albeit it being closer, more feasible when the person is of old age.

To remain in her apartment would be the same as signing a contract of spatial isolation, of not belonging to world surrounding her. It would be like signing a contract with the passive wait for death. Clara’s exiting of her habitat would represent the abandonment of her memories, the failure on the collective and personal struggle of not belonging to her own spaces.

The building is an extension of Clara’s body, it is a part of who she was and aims to continue being. At the Aquarius, Clara still has a purpose in life. For those reasons, the protagonist embraces this body-building which not only gives her shelter, but also takes her in. This body-building, similar to her physical body, brings the marks of the fights, of the delights, of the gains and losses, of the sweet and bitter tastes experienced by a woman who lived her life without apologizing or blaming herself for who she is.

The Aquarius is the photography album where every picture of Clara’s memory is registered. Some nitid, others faded, though all narrate the journey of a character who continues living life is her own master, and who remains acting as the sole protagonist of her story.

   The city and the feminine blur the lines of living on a public space and of the fear that crosses and limits the relationship between the private space (home), and the collective (the building and the street). In this case, the Aquarius (the building) and its flat are the centre of the conflict between the individual and the collective space, hence showing the complexity of female life in community spaces; what more, they show how the forms of symbolic violence lived by mature women are not visualised by culture and society.

It is highlighted that, during the course of the film, the city begins to undress, mediated by the brilliant soundtrack which not only brings ambience to the movie, but has as much protagonism as the narrative itself, as though it were one extra clue on the construction of circularities; at the centre of it all is the main character, on a move that leans onto the dichotomy between visibility and invisibility in order to keep track of the trajectory of this senior woman. The image of the city broken, a metropolis torn between the visible world (socially accepted, economically favourable) and the invisible world (socially marginalised, economically unfavourable).

Clara transits between these two worlds, or rather, is fixed between them.The images of these spaces are consumed with ocasional music, in which the polarization is symbolic although evident, making the soundtrack a reiteration of this transit between the visible and the invisible, working as exacerbated symbolizations. Such imagery confirms the polarities and dualities that mark and demarcate the experience of the mature women when it comes to the constant violence in urban spaces. These experiences are suffered by Clara who, intriguingly, only gauges the condition of visibility when she takes by storm the quotidian of the urban life.

Aquarius concludes its narrative, but it does not end Clara’s story. Today, she is the person who won fearlessly the battle against “living a half-lived life”[15]. However, tomorrow draws near, and all that is left for Clara is to live her own luck.


Men of steel expect science

I despair and embrace your absence

Which is what I have left, alive with my luck


I didn’t want a youth this lost

I didn’t want to live a life half-lived

I didn’t want to love you like I did[16]   

(snippet of the song “Today” written and played by Taiguara)"



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Musical references:

DA VIOLA, Paulinho 1973. Nervos de aço. Vinil Record. Brazil: Odeon.

CHALAR DA SILVA, Taiguara. 1969. Hoje. Vinil Record. Brazil: Odeon.

Film references:

A Long Goodbye. 1971.  Directed by Kira Muratova. USSR: Odessa Film Studios.

Aquarius. 2016. Film. Directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho. Brazil: CinemaScópio Produções, SBS Productions and Globo Filmes.

Central Station. 1998. Directed by Walter Salles. Brazil: Audiovisual Development Bureau, Ministerio da Cultura.

City of God. 2002. Directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund. Brazil: O2 Filmes.

Cléo from 5 to 7. 1962. Directed by Agnès Varda. France and Italy:Ciné Tamaris and Rome Paris Films.

Dah. 2012. Directed by Abbas Kiarostami. Iran: Abbas Kiarostami Productions, Key Lime Productions and MK2 Productions.

Father and Son. 2003. Directed by Alexander Sokurov. France,Italy,Russia,Germany and Holland:  Nikola Film, Isabella Films B.V. and Lumen Films.

Fellini’s Roma. 1972. Directed by Federico Fellini. Italy: Ultra Film and Les Productions Artistes Associés.

Little Secret. 2016. Film. Directed by David Schürmann. Brazil: Schurmann Film Company and Ocean Films.

Lower City. 2005. Directed by Sérgio Machado, 2005. Brazil:  VideoFilmes and Buena Onda Films.

Mystery Train. 1989.  Directed by Jim Jarmusch. USA:  JVC Entertainment Networks.

Neighboring Sounds. 2012. Directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho. Brazil:  Hubert Bals Fund and CinemaScópio.

Recife Frio. 2009. Directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho. Brazil: CinemaScópio.


Nota biográfica:

Tania Montoro

Professor of both graduate and undergraduate programs of the Communications department at the University of Brasilia (Universidade de Brasília), Brazil. Doctor in “Audiovisual em Publicity” by the Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain (2001), master of Social Mobilization and Communication by the Tulane University(1994) in New Orleans, USA.

Nayara Helou Chubaci Güércio

 Mester’s degree in “Communications” and bachelor’s degree in “Social Communications” by the University of Brasília (Universidade de Brasília), Brazil.


[1]     “Aquarius” caused internal controversy at the Cannes Film Festival on May, 2016, due to the protest led by members of the movie’s cast and crew, who raised paper signs denouncing the alleged coup the then Brazilian Chief of State, Dilma Rousseff, during her impeachment proceedings. Furthermore, the feature film was involved in controversy two other times, one of which involved the movie’s rating which, at first, was assigned by the Ministry of Justice as NC-17. However, later on, the office went back on its decision and changed the movie’s rating to R. Lastly, the Ministry of Culture selected  the feature film Little Secret (Brazil, David Schürmann, 107m, 2016) to represent Brazil on the Oscar ceremony, contradicting general expectations that had Aquarius as the favourite. These two controversies intensified the rumours that Mendonça Filho’s movie, as well the the director himself, would suffering retaliation from the current Brazilian president, Michel Temer.

[2] The city of Recife can be seen on previous works from the director such as Neighbouring Sounds (Brazil, Kleber Mendonça Filho, 131 min, 2012) and Recife Frio (Brazil, Kleber Mendonça Filho, 24 min, 2009).

[3] Tok&Stok can be pinned as the Brazilian equivalent of the IKEA stores.

[4] Story penned by Nayara Reynaud, published on 01/09/16, at 15h03, under the title “From song to song, Kleber Mendonça Filho, Sônia Braga and cast talk about Aquarius”. The respective story can be found at the following electronic address:

[5] The waters are considered dangerous due to the shark attacks which had happened frequently in the area since the 1990s.

[6] The sequence unfolds at the following interval: 01:00:02 - 01:12:23.

[7] The song Nervos de aço (Nerves of Steel) was written by Lupicinio Rodrigues and performed by Paulinho da Viola for the first time in 1973.

[8] Picture 1.

[9] Picture 2.

[10] Translated from the original dialogue which is held in Portuguese.

[11] Picture 3.

[12] Picture 4.

[13] Picture 5.

[14] The protagonist does not have one of her breasts due to a mastectomy.

[15] Reference to the lyrics of the song “Today” (original title: “Hoje) by the singer and composer Taiguara.

[16] This song belongs to Aquarius’ soundtrack. These verses were translated from its original Portuguese version by this paper’s authors, as well as most of the citations mentioned above


labrys, études féministes/ estudos feministas
julho/ 2017- junho 2018 /juillet 2017-juin 2018