The Priest and the Girl

Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, Brazil, 1969, 35mm, 95 min., Portuguese w/ English subtitles

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Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, Brazil, 1966, 35mm, 90 min., b&w, Portuguese w/ English subtitles

Shot in a small village in the province of Minas Gerais, Andrade’s first full-fledged feature film calls to mind Robert Bresson in its formal austerity, severe black-and-white cinematography, and religious milieu. The film’s protagonist is a young priest who arrives in the village to replace his dying predecessor. He befriends the young and beautiful Mariana, only to discover that she’s enmeshed in an incestuous relationship with one of the town’s most prominent residents. In his attempts to save Mariana, he has to contend not only with the villagers’ moral narrow-mindedness but with his own internal struggle between love for the girl and the strictures of his faith. In telling this story, Andrade draws parallels between the townspeople’s blind adherence to social, moral, and political conventions, and the state of Brazilian society as a whole.