Forget the image of D. Pedro 1º virile, mounted on a horse, with a sword in his right arm proclaiming the independence of Brazil, as it appears in “Independência ou Morte!”, a nationalist painting painted by Pedro Américo in 1888.
In the recently released film “A Viagem de Pedro”, in theaters, director and screenwriter Laís Bodanzky portrays the emperor in 1831, when he abdicated the Brazilian throne in favor of his son, D. Pedro 2nd, and returned to Portugal in order to regain the Portuguese throne from his brother, D. Miguel. But, at this point, he is a fragile and impotent monarch, even sexually, to the point that, in a sequel to the feature film, actor Cauã Reymond, who plays the protagonist, rages: “How am I going to win a soft-cocked war? “.
The line was not in the script and was said off the cuff by Cauã, but it perfectly opens up that moment in the life of a historical figure that most textbooks portray only as a hero, almost a demigod.
“It was an assertive choice to show this more fragile side of Pedro, something I don’t remember seeing in other works. We wanted a different point of view of this hero that we learn in history books”, says Cauã to universe.
“I wanted to go against what had already been produced about Pedro. There are few documents about this return trip. But we know that he was in a moment of serious personal crisis, with advanced syphilis, having delusions and feeling guilty for the death of Leopoldina, his first wife”, says director Laís Bodanzky.
“Furthermore, he suffered from sexual impotence, which was a martyrdom for a man who seemed to relate power precisely to all that virility,” he adds.
For Cauã, this is one of the most sensitive themes in the film. “While he was a kind man, he was toxic in his relationships and, like many men then and now, felt he owned his women’s bodies, treating them aggressively and possessively.”
The film also shows Pedro’s toxic masculinity. He was harsh with his second wife, Amelia (Victoria Guerra), and violently took out on her the difficulty he had in getting her pregnant — with her, he had only one daughter. In relation to Leopoldina (Luise Heyer), his first wife, the feature shows Pedro’s little regard for his wife’s request to have a longer rest period between one pregnancy and another — she, who would die in 1826, had seven children between 1819 and 1825.
“Being a woman, at that time, was as difficult as it is today. It turns out that, nowadays, women’s issues are reported in the press, femicide is an agenda in the media and condemned by public opinion, while, in Imperial Brazil, being submissive was a standard for women”, says the director, who also regrets the process of historical and political erasure of figures such as Leopoldina.
It was she, not her husband, who signed the document declaring Brazil’s independence on September 2, 1822. There are even doubts about how the story has been told and whether he would have proclaimed independence on the banks of the Ipiranga River, in full dress uniforms, surrounded by a large entourage.
In light of the discussions about toxic masculinity, Cauã says he always puts himself as a listener.
“We bring a lot of this structural machismo from generation to generation. And it’s already been more than proven that this is no longer tolerated these days. We have to be with a sharp listen and observe our attitudes. me.” Cauã Reymond
“The people are not in the textbooks”
The story of “A Viagem de Pedro” takes place practically entirely inside a vessel, a reproduction of a frigate from the beginning of the 19th century — the scenes were filmed in the studio and also in the Atlantic Ocean, sailing from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro. Inside it, in addition to Pedro and his wife, sailors and blacks enslaved in Brazil who, on their way to Portugal, dreamed of freedom. After all, as Dira, Isabél Zuaa, says, “in Europe there was no slavery”.
“It was necessary to show what Brazilian society was like, which had a black population for the most part, just as it is today. laments Laís, who included black characters from different origins and religions in the film’s story, just as it was during the country’s slavery period.
The figure of Dira stands out among these characters, who, in the director’s words, would be what is currently called an “empowered woman”. In one of the scenes, she explains how women can feel pleasure.
“It was an issue that was approached very delicately, because, historically, black women are very sexualized. In our research, we found a society in Africa in which women are not submissive and are aware that their bodies cannot be objectified or objects of men”, says the filmmaker, who had the collaboration of the actors themselves in the process of writing the script and creating the scenes.
It was even in conversation with Isabél that the director changed the outcome of the character Dira. In the initial idea, she would be arrested at the end of the trip. According to Laís, the actress commented that she would not be able, again, to do a scene of a black woman getting sick at the end of the story. Thus, the sequence was reconstructed, allowing Dira to keep the dream of freedom. “It was important for Isabél, as an actress and a black woman, to show the new generations that other outcomes are possible”.
Laís observes that, through a contemporary look, it is possible to perceive that the erasure of women, toxic masculinity and structural racism are problems that already existed at that time and that, unfortunately, persist to this day. Thankfully, she says, there are answers to all of this, like the MeToo movements and Vidas Pretas Matter.