Maioria Absoluta (1964) - full transcript

Statistics, interviews and historical information on illiteracy and inequality in land distribution in Brazil's countryside.





...i, o, u

Give me an A
Hail Mary

Give me a B, Bountiful and Beautiful

Give me a C
Corfim of Grace

And a D
Divine Star

This movie is not about teaching
people to read and write.

It's about the illiteracy that
marginalizes 40 million of our brothers.

We decided to look for its causes
by getting opinions and testimony

from people who deal with this
problem on different levels

- My God!
- Explain that!

- Come on, say it!
- Come on, say it!

- Say what?
- What causes this problem?

- Just to keep the sound level.
- Say it.

Are we recording this? What's the
cause of this problem, Fernandinho?

- There's no crisis.
- There's no crisis.

The big Brazilian crisis is
a moral crisis.

And parodying an old Brazilian
writer and politician,

I'd say that our Constitution
should have just one article

and one paragraph: "Every
Brazilian should behave ethically."

But not everyone agrees with that
it's just a problem of morals.

The thing is that our people
are very lazy.

Sometimes they don't
know how to accept

the things they're given
to help them get ahead.

If they don't start by providing
an education for those

- who are born, above all...
- Right.

...teaching them how to write...

There are other worries.

The person who

only knows how to
write his name,

this guy can't vote,
he's not qualified,

he can't read the papers,
he can't...

he can't get informed enough
to vote correctly.

And that's a disgrace. I have the
impression that this country

should import people: 20,000
Germans, 60,000 Englishmen

and Americans...
and that would be a large group,

a whole lot of
honest people:

British, German, Dutch
and even American people.

...sexual weakness,
diseases and pain,

compressed aches, rheumatism,
syphilis, inflammation of the eyes,

headache, constipation,
people who have constant

headaches, all they have
to do is drink this beverage,

grab one of these packages...

So many problems,
and so many opinions.

Against syphilis, belly ache
and baldness,

they recommend the same
medicine: the beverage.

What about illiteracy?

Diseases, like social illnesses
have causes,

and because they don't know them,
people look for miraculous cures,

absurd solutions,

just to escape from
the oppressing reality.

Illiteracy doesn't happen
by chance.

In the big urban areas,

where income is higher
and diseases are not widespread

there are fewer illiterate people.
It's in the small villages where

life expectancy is lower,

that illiteracy reaches
a high percentage.

Can that he a mere coincidence?

Of 3,500 Brazilian municipalities,

2,700 have no medical
assistance whatsoever.

In the Northeast,
where 25 million people live,

60% of the families don't eat meat,

80% don't eat eggs
and 50% don't drink milk.

Let's hear from the illiterates,
they are the absolute majority.

It's like that all the time, he's
been shaking for the last 11 years.

He hurt himself working
on a sugarcane plantation.

It seems that he cut a nerve in
his wrist and he began to shake.

It began on the tip of one finger
then moved on to the others,

then to rest of his body,
and there he is.

When it got to his head, he
bit his tongue, he swallowed

his food and
his tongue.

I gave him some purgative made of
German liquor and he calmed down.

One gives me 10, one gives me 20,
another one, 100, another one, 50,

another 2,000 “réis", another
10 cents, another, 500 “réis",

and I get by,
as God wants.

That's my life. I have no
father, I have no mother.

My son left for São Paulo
and forsook me.

I've been here for 13 years,
that's my situation.

My life consists of asking for help
from citizens, majors, colonels,

lieutenants, no matter who, that'll
be my life till Jesus calls me.

8 million children like these
don't have schools.

Illiteracy lives here.
Not in the open, breezy homes,

not in the concrete
and glass buildings

of the big cities.

It lives in the huts with wet floors,
in the houses made of clay,

in the huts made of tin.

That's where it lives.

Under that straw roof,
on this earthy ground,

among these ruined walls,

that's where illiteracy lives
and thrives.

It eyes its victims
in the dark,

like the Chagas disease,
worms and hunger.

Here in the Northeast
we use straw roofs,

I don't know if they
use them in the huts too.

That straw can last
three years but

sometimes it takes them four
to five years to change it.

So they believe it becomes
a sieve that lets them see

what's happening in the sky:
if there's rain, sun, dew,

stars at night, the moon,
whatever, we can see everything.

Man can't understand,
Man can't study,

Man can't manufacture,
Man can't manage,

Man can't make,
Man can't love,

a hungry man
can't love!

A hungry man is not
interested in women,

he can't love.
He can be right next to

the most beautiful
woman on earth,

if he's hungry.

He'll tell the woman
to back off.

I'm going to look for food.
He'll leave her no matter what.

I mean, what's really useful,
necessary for human beings,

for an animal, is food.

Food. We only plant food in
3% of the cultivated land in Brazil.

That's because the bosses
just want sugarcane.

One can't see
a plot with manioc,

corn or cotton plantations
in a sugarcane mill.

But you see a lot of naked people.

Naked... a lot of people
in terrible conditions.

A lot. That's what you see with
workers in the sugarcane industry.

...and we're worth nothing.

If I had more land,

a larger piece of
land, a valley,

I'd plant and I'd have
crops all year long,

I'd have a better life,
I wouldn't work

for the owner of the mill,
just for the sugarcane mill.

When you work for yourself
your life's more complete,

more relaxed, longer,

it's not like
the life we live.

Our life's painful.

We leave early,
at sunrise, no matter if

it's rainy or sunny. Those
who work their own land,

when morning comes and
it's raining, they

have the right to have breakfast,
wait for sunrise,

and then go to work. But not
us, no matter if it's sunny

or rainy,
the guy has to go.

Under the rain, under the sun,
under the dew. What I mean is that

it's like forced labor.

It's as if we were prisoners.

It's forced labor.

Our life is just like the life of
a prisoner. No freedom at all.

That's what our life's like.

I've worked for these men
for uncountable years.

I vote, I have
my papers and I vote

every year but I can
never buy anything.

Not even for my five children,

I never had the right
to register them,

so they could get their rights
from these men.

But I did better than the weak
ones, I had a chance to be heard,

but nobody was
interested in me,

and I'm still suffering from
hunger, nudity,

suffering with my family.
This woman lives with me,

she works every day to earn
her bread and feed our children.

If we want to survive.

Brazil was discovered
In the year 1500.

In the year 1534
D. João III of Portugal

divided Brazil into provinces that
were given to members of his court.

From 1535 on, the owners
began to distribute their land

among other nobles
and rich men.

They imported slaves
to work the land,

and these slaves
had no rights at all.

Since I learned how to count
until today I've worked hard.

- How many children?
- I have five.

- How many miscarriages?
- Three,

two live ones, one dead
and two abortions too.

And I've never had what
I needed,

I lacked everything, but
I've always given my best

at work, worked a lot,
and I'm always free.

In 1876 there were 10 million
inhabitants in Brazil

and only 20 thousand

There were 80 million Brazilians
in 1964,

and just 70 thousand owned
60% of the land in the country.

12 million peasants
don't own any land.

6 million never
touched money.

After work, I cultivate
my piece of land.

I'm going to cultivate my
piece of land so that next year

I'll have the manioc to make
flour and sustain myself.

I hardly rest at all after
lunch and keep working till 5.

I feel like going to fetch
some firewood to make

flour, dig up manioc

to make some flour.

I'll do that if I have time,
if not, I'll do it tomorrow.

No money, no comfort,
no salary,

a street artist makes
one "conto" and 200.

I've made 600 thousand "réis"
in the last 15 days.

500 thousand "réis".

I'll sit here for a while.

Look, I built that building,
that little house.

I built my house on
the inside lot.

I built that garage
behind the church.

There's another house over
there that I built myself.

I do everything: I paint, I clean
and I never get behind schedule.

I support myself with my work.
My time is up but I'm still strong.

What can I do with a 600-thousand-
"réis" salary in times like these?

They'll starve to death, you know?

The needy peasant,
deprived of everything,

never sleeping well, not eating
enough...with nothing to eat.

He's going to buy...
If he owes 10 "tostões", he's

happy if he doesn't get beaten.
If he says something, he gets shot.

See, he's like a prisoner
because there's no food for him.

He can't buy a shirt for his son.
His wife is naked,

sleeping on the floor, no clothes,
she can't travel, you hear me?

How can a person live
like that?

He can't, right?

I bought a pair of shoes
but I can't wear them,

either my feet grew or
the shoes shrank.

These are my
only trousers.

I wear them to dance, to go to
the market, to cut sugarcane.

I won't lie about
what I have, you know?

I never stole anything. I didn't
have the courage, but I wanted to

just to get some food.
Yes. Right.

You've got to see that, boss.

I have red beans at home donated
by the government.

I ate a lot of beans, that
was all I had yesterday.

I had no breakfast today. No
food. And I didn't miss it.

They created a situation
to expel him from the house,

that he wasn't registered,
that he had no rights.

He said, "Do I have
to leave the house now?

No problem,
I'll leave now."

He said, "All right,
I'm leaving." "Right now!"

Then he said, "I can't leave now.
I can't leave now."

And the men gave him
30... 90 days.

They gave him 90 days
more to stay in the house.

He said he wouldn't leave
the house before 90 days,

before he straightened things
out. And he went to the union.

I was starving. The money
I make is not enough,

I'm happy about
my dedication,

I'm always willing to work,
I cultivated a piece of land,

I forced myself to do that.

Last year, I cultivated
a little lot,

and Galvão, a foreman,
tried to destroy it.

He said he'd come with some
guys to destroy my field.

And I waited for him to do it.
I wouldn't say anything.

After he did it, I'd
do something about it.

I would never fight him, but
I had to look out for my rights,

because that field was supposed
to feed me, my children,

my wife. Why would the foreman
of the mill

destroy it, in that no man's land?

Because that's what it is,
the woods.

That's our situation here.
Now we're asking the authorities

to give peasants their rights.
We don't want what belongs

to the boss, we want justice.
That's what we need.

A father of seven who lives
here has to go to the cooperative,

a farmworker has to buy his
flour to eat at lunchtime.

That's hideous,
that's a shame for me.

That's a shame, that's hideous.
All these peasants,

all this land and I can only
buy two pounds of flour!

Only city people
can buy stuff,

blue collar workers that don't
work the land. But peasants?

Who's to blame? The landowner.
He keeps the land for himself and

doesn't let peasants work the land.

Of 40 million illiterate
Brazilians, 25 million,

above 18
aren't allowed to vote.

But they produce
your sugar, your coffee,

your daily lunch.

They give the country their lives,
their children's lives,

and what does the country give them?
- Attention!

The movie ends here.
Out there, your life,

like these men's, goes on.