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Films >> How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman (Como Era Gostoso o Meu Francês) (1971) >>

Reviews by Zachary Carter

Allen, T. "What's Cooking, Comrade?" Village Voice 28 August 1978: 66.
Perira dos Santos's "emotional landscapes" are more alien that the exotic locales he portrays on screen. His camera work is "itchy, arbitrary," and he has a "huge appetite for heavy irony." His narrative and visual style can be "most kindly described as anarchic." The film is a "perversely innocent fable," a "great conversation piece," the "anthropological ambiance is doubtful," the development "erratic," the conclusion "foregone." But there's a certain "childish glee" from one of the "most outlandish filmmaking personalities of the Third World."
Croce, Fernando F. "How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman." Slant Magazine 28 May 2007.
Croce investigates the historical reality of Brazil's military dictatorship. He explains how there were countless numbers of people who were tortured and disappeared in this time. He offers the Frenchman as an historical example of how they disappeared and why. Croce also compares the film to other cannibalistic films but separates it by claiming the director Pereira dos Santos's intention was to satirize the grand New World mythology and examine a complex emerging national identity.
Davis, Darien J. Rev. of Hans Staden and How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman. American Historical Review 106.2 (2001): 695-97.
Davis gives an overview of two films, Hans Staden (1999) and How Tasty Was My Little Frenchmen (1971), which both focus on the Tupi people of Brazil. Davis compares and contrasts the two films claiming that although the former was more faithful to historical texts, the latter tackled political issues and broadened our viewpoint. Davis explains how Portuguese colonization was initially confusing because Brazil, France, and the Dutch all attempted to colonize parts of Brazil and waged wars using different indigenous groups. Davis points out how the main character in the film became absorbed into Tupi culture, giving the viewer an understanding of the inner workings of Tupi life. He gives many details about the film itself but brings up interesting points about the function of cannibalism -- creating an ambiguity.
Green, James W. Rev. of How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman. American Anthropologist 77.3 (1975): 699-700.
In addition to discussing classroom use of the film, Green gives some great insight into themes of the film. For instance, he claims that a central motif is reciprocity. The Frenchman both gives himself as a meal to the Indians yet receives equal treatment, being given a wife and role in the community. Green also sees reciprocity when the Frenchman is "literally absorbed" into the Indian society and later the Frenchman's friends, whom he claims will avenge him, do, in fact, come and kill thousands of Brazilians. Green also discusses the function of cannibalism as a form of ethnocentric humor and fidelity. He notes that the tribe is controlled, balanced, moral, and functions well dispelling our myth of barbaric Indians.
Greenspun, Roger. "Screen: How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman." New York Times 17 April 1973: 34.
The authenticity is "a joke" as the actors are white, beautiful Brazilians who are reddened for the film. Despite this, Greenspun finds the acting to be convincing and is taken by the scene at the end where the Indian wife eerily describes the ritual to her husband of how everyone will eat him.
Griffith, J. "Overlooked and Underrated: How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman." Take One 4 (1979): 12.
Seldom seen or discussed, dos Santos's film "has wryly -- and brilliantly -- reworked the theme of oppressive imperialism." The natives are put on a level with the colonists: "The cannibal's words and actions, however blunt or violent, are always straightforward rather than duplicitous, and justified by law and custom rather than motivated by greed." The shot of Seboipebe at the end "resembles an airline poster that would sell us a tropical vacation."
Konrad, Todd. "How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman." Independent Film Quarterly
Immediately noticeable is the "cinema verite-style coverage [that] imbues a realistic, documentary feel for the viewer": "Coupled with the comedic plot setup, the movie comes across as a sort of mutant National Geographic special missing John Forsythe as narrator." Thankfully, the How Tasty avoids the "stereotypical focus on outsider as newborn native being forced to defend said tribe." The film is "an intelligent satire that skewers the horrors of colonization while underscoring the validity and beauty of cultures that had made their home in these territories for centuries before being ‘discovered'."
Mosk. Rev. of Como Era Gostoso O Meu Frances. Variety 14 July 1971.
Shame on Cannes for turning this film down, presumably for the nudity, which is ethnically sound and never exploited. The film "affectively shows the differences in cultures and also gives an oblique look at so-called affluent world and third-world differences." It "definitely has fest and special situation chances abroad and its inherent feeling for early meetings of different cultures will sell this and not the nudity which is never ogled at or overly indulged."