Errors in ‘In the Times of the Emperor’

Michel Gomes and Gabriela Medvedovski as Samuel and Pilar in 'In the Emperor's Times' (Photo: Globo)Michel Gomes and Gabriela Medvedovski as Samuel and Pilar in ‘In the Emperor’s Times’ (Photo: Globo)

“In the times of the Emperor” takes place in the 19th century. Brazil lived a monarchy and slavery was in effect. In the first chapter, we follow the adventure of meeting the girl, Pilar (Gabriela Medvedovski), with the good guy, Jorge (Michel Gomes). Both were on the run, but for different reasons. She wanted to escape the tyranny of her farmer father, who promised her in marriage. She dreams of being a doctor, an activity at that point prohibited for women. He was a slave on a neighboring farm. The opening scenes showed a Malian-led revolt. It was night, there was confusion, fire, gunfire, etc. Colonel Ambrósio (Roberto Bonfim) was shot and died. The responsible for the crime was the overseer, but he blamed Jorge, who managed to escape and was taken in by the Countess of Barral (Mariana Ximenes). Renamed Samuel, he went with her to Rio. In the capital, he met Pilar again. They then engaged in a relationship.

Since their debut, the couple walks through the streets of the city without the issue of racism ever being present. The big dilemma that hinders their lives is the fact that she is not able to enter university. The forces that would certainly hinder—not to say impede—the relationship of a black man to a white woman in 1856 were simply erased from the plot. The discomfort that the viewer had been feeling with this portrait beyond inaccurate deepened in last Saturday’s chapter. That’s when Pilar and Samuel talked about the possibility of her living with him in Little Africa. The conversation turned to the prejudice she could suffer for being white. The public revolted on social media. With good reason. Thereza Falcão, co-author with Alessandro Marson, apologized for what she called a “gross error”. The scene was really shocking. Someone missed history classes.

The author wrote on the networks: “It was terrible. We are very sorry. I myself, when I saw the scene here at home, I said: ‘What was that?’ All the chapters that go on air until the 24th were written in 2018. We didn’t have a specialized consultancy, which only happened last year, with the entry of Nei Lopes”. But then I raise another question. Because of the pandemic, the soap opera was recorded in advance. This means that at this point there are a lot of scenes ready. Studio work is expected to finish in October. And this is the young leading couple. Will it be possible to fix? Soap operas have always been, par excellence, open works and subject to change during flight. If this were happening with “In the Emperor’s Times”, adjustments would be immediate and easier to carry out.

Two lessons remain: that poetic licenses are allowed in fiction, as long as they do not offend History and belittle the public’s intelligence; and that when the pandemic ends, it is good to go back to the old mode of production. He makes the novels amenable to hits when they are needed. In this case, they are essential.

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