Reel American HistoryHistory on trial Main Page

AboutFilmsFor StudentsFor TeachersBibliographyResources

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

Print Resources

Burns, E. Bradford. Latin American Cinema: Film and History. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center, University of California, 1975.
In the mid-70s, Burns pioneered the use of film as a major medium towards the study of sociology. Burns has taught many history classes at UCLA, focusing on the photogenic representation of past events. His main interest concerns the portrayal of Latin America in movies, and the three included essays analyze both conceptual and mechanical values placed on those within the film and the subsequent affect on the audience's interpretations of history. Interviewed students discuss how movies have become dominant sources of information for the study of Latin America's past. Burns concludes with a section regarding various books and essays invaluable to the building a foundation for the conceptualization of film use in history and securing it among the ranks of reliable sources.
De Sousa, G. U. "Theatrics and Politics of Culture in Sixteenth-Century Brazil." Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 30 (1994): 89-102.
De Sousa's article on the theatrics and politics of historical Brazil focuses on both the Hans Staden sixteenth century text and our film, which is based on his experience. De Sousa examines the way in which both works depict the European protagonists' efforts to resist assimilation and preserve their European notions of dominance over the South American "other." A Shakespeare scholar, de Sousa approaches this area of analysis by focusing on the literary and cinematic ways in which both works "forge a literary identity for [them]selves -- an identity that ensures the ideological domination of Europe."
Gervassi-Navarro, Nina. "Turning Cannibalism Inside Out: Re-Reading the Chronicles in Como era Gostoso O meu Frances." Bridging Continents: Cinematic and Literary Representations of Spanish and Latin American Themes. Ed. Nora Glickman and Alejandro Varderi. Chasqui; revista de literatura latinoamericana. Special issue No. 2 (2005). 13-23.
"The purpose of this essay is to shed light on the ways in which Como era gostoso o meu frances questions the construction of Brazilian identity and the past it has embraced. " There are a couple movements initiated by explorers and historians either embracing or rejecting accounts of cannibalism. The first chronicler of cannibalism in Brazil was a German explorer; however, it was the Portuguese and French presence and enemy alliances that spurred more controversy and shed more light on cannibalism in Brazil. Between German accounts and France and Portugal's growing presence in Brazil, maps were soon created outlining cannibal territories. The second accounts were created as a part of the 1920s and 1930s modernist period, known as the Cannibalist Movement. Its purpose was to distinguish the real history from foreign influence, "inverting the traditional relationship between colonizer and colonized." Third, the 1960s brought a movement exploring cannibalism in Brazil through cinema by the Brazilian Cinema Novo. The movement challenged traditional cinematic practices and forced people to consider the politics and "aesthetics" used to depict national identity. Our film uses this third movement to illustrate the happenings before it: "Pereira dos Santos used the cannibalist trope to illustrate how the alienation and destruction of Brazilian life were directly linked to the idea of economic progress and modernization generated by foreign projects." In short, this essay explains how the film incorporates the various movements throughout the history of Brazil is illustrated through a film set during colonization. In particular, the author offers a gendered reading of the film while simultaneously attempting to unravel its narrative contradictions in order to do so.
Gordon, Richard. "Exoticizing the Nation in Cabeza de vaca and Come era gostoso o meu frances." Cannibalizing the Colony: Cinematic Adaptations of Colonial Literature in Mexico and Brazil West Lafayette: Purdue UP, 2009. 47-76.
Gordon makes the argument that the directors of both Cabeza de Vaca and How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman "self-exoticize and critique exoticism" by adding various aspects to the original stories from which the films come. While Pereira dos Santos is effective in his endeavors in our film to create a sense of exoticism, Echevarria is less successful in Cabeza de Vaca, essentially creating more confusion surrounding exoticism and its effects on how people today view indigenous identity. Gordon argues that Pereira dos Santos is successful because he takes the idea of cannibalism, which is typically viewed in negative light, and is able to create a positive connotation as it represents it as part of the indigenous and Brazilian identity. In contrast, he argues, Cabeza de Vaca makes cannibalism look exotic as well, yet it is portrayed negatively. Whereas the members of the friendly tribes in Cabeza de Vaca are added as de-exoticized characters, the cannibalistic tribe is seen as harsh and cruel and is ultimately underdeveloped, whereas the tribes who perform magic (which is considered legitimate) are seen in positive light.
Greenwald, Rachel T. "Models of Identity Exploration in Film: A Letter without Words and How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman. Radical History Review 83 (2002): 175-79.
Describes a class exercise based on these two films designed to help students "understand that state-supported policies of discrimination -- such as colonialism, imperialism, or legalized anti-Semitism -- often do leave the identity of those discriminated against at the mercy of the dominant society. Those who are physically and economically defenseless cannot define themselves separately from those in power.
Higginbotham, Virginia. "Fast Frames: Insights into Mexican, Latin American, and Brazilian Cinema." Latin American Research Review 40.3 (2005): 273-82.
Reviews three books, including ones by Shaw and Sadlier, and scoops off pertinent general comments about Pereira and this film in her survey of a dozen or so filmmakers.
Johnson, Randal. Cinema Novo x 5: Masters of Contemporary Brazilian Film. Austin: U of Texas P, 1984.
After describing the three phases of Dos Santos' cinematographic production (sociological phase (1955-1967), ideological phase (1974-1981), popular phase (1974-1981)), Johnson analyzes in detail some of Dos Santos' films.
Johnson, Randal. "Toward a Popular Cinema: An Interview with Nelson Pereira dos Santos." Studies in Latin American Popular Culture s.n. (1982): 225-38.
Johnson starts his article with a brief introduction about Dos Santos' cinematographic production and its three phases: sociological phase (1955-1967), ideological phase (1974-1981), popular phase (1974-1981). Johnson then includes the transcript of his interview to Dos Santos which was recorded in the 1977 NY Film Festival. In the interview, Dos Santos discusses the film Tenda dos Milagres, the situation of Brazilian cinema at that time, and the controversial role of the state in the film industry.
Pena, Richard. "How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman." Brazilian Cinema. Ed. Randal Johnson and Robert Stam. Rutherford: Farleigh Dickinson UP, 1982.
Richard Peña discusses several filmic techniques that are used to tell the story of How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman. More specifically, he explains the concept of cinema verité, in which the director uses natural light, quick zooms, and long, uninterrupted hand-held shots. He describes the movie as a portrait film because the viewer is familiarizing himself with one specific character in-depth during the course of the film. Camera angles are also used as a way to tell the Frenchman's story, for different angles give the viewer's different sentiments (i.e. the Frenchman's perspective vs. the natives' perspective). Peña then proceeds to analyze specific scenes and discuss the meaning that they have in the film. For instance, he takes a closer look at the opening scenes and discusses the Frenchman's overall appearance as a physical form of separation from the indigenous people. As the movie progresses, the Frenchman shaves his long, blond hair and removes his European clothes as a way of assimilating to the native culture. The transformation of his appearance is the physical form of the changes that he undergoes as a character, as he becomes more sympathetic to the natives' culture and way of life during the course of the movie.
Sadlier, Darlene J. "The Politics of Adaptation: How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman." Film Adaptation. Ed. James Naremore. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 2000. 190-205.
Sadlier examines what happens when a historical film is influenced not only by the events of hundreds of years ago but also by modern political events. She examines the ability and commitment of director dos Santos to tell the story of Tasty and how he uses current events to influence the nuances of the film. Sadlier's analysis is extremely historically based, and she uses historical events such as the founding of a Huguenot colony on an island off the coast of Rio that was decimated by Portuguese forces, as well as the killing and eating of a Portuguese archbishop. She also notes dos Santos's subtle hints at the unneeded idea of colonization by pointing out a scene in the beginning where Tupinquin women are given shirts by the Portuguese and, instead, they take them off.
Sadlier, Darlene J. Brazil Imagined: 1500 to the Present. Austin: U of Texas P, 2008.
"The early oscillating images of Brazil as Edenic and barbarous reemerge in the later part of the twentieth century as Cinema Novo films about the utopian possibilities of a poor but developing nation accede to darker pictures of a dystopia plagued by corruption, drugs, and violence. I explore these contrasting media images in Chapter Seven [From Revolutionary to Dystopian Brazil on Screen], and in many ways they remain at the heart of the country's view itself today."
Sadlier, Darlene. "Culture and Cannibalism: Coma era gostoso o meu frances." Nelson Pereira dos Santos. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 2003. 58-74.
This article exposes dos Santos' film adaptation of Hans Staden's chronicles to be a compilation of multiple stories and sources, with huge political implications. Most of dos Santos's films are adaptations of literature that comment on governmental policies, but Como era gostoso o meu frances is based on the German explorer Hans Staden's chronicle. However, this is not the only thing the film is based on -- it is also based on other historical narratives.
Shaw, Lisa, and Stephanie Dennison. "Cinema Novo." Brazilian National Cinema. London: Routledge, 2007.
Briefish overview of the movement: "The cinema novo movement lies at the heart of any discussion on national culture in Brazil, because it was conceived specifically to create "a Brazilian cinema" in Brazil, to reveal the country's true face and to contribute to its transformation.
Williams, Bruce. "To Serve Godard: Anthropophagical Precesses in Brazilian Cinema." Literature/Film Quarterly 27.3 (1999): 202-9.
Decrying the importation of "canned culture," the anthropophagist intellectuals in Brazil hold as an ideal social model a matriarchal anarchy, devoid of laws and army. Williams discusses two films, How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman and Iracema, in the context of this creative, nationalistic movement.
Young, Theodore Robert. "You Are What You Eat: Tropicalismo and How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman. A Twice-Told Tale: Reinventing the Encounter in Iberian/Iberian American Literature and Film. Ed. Santiago Juan-Navarro and Theodore Robert Young. Newark: U of Delaware P, 2001.
Young likens the cannibalistic behaviors of those depicted in the film to actual cannibals from Brazilian culture. And although Europeans and Americans see this is simply barbaric, there is actually a basis for their actions, ranging from incorporating the consumed individual's identity, characteristics, and even their names. Young also notes the conflicts of this film that are presented to Euro-American viewers, such as the portrayal of Portuguese -- not Tupi -- as the dominant language of Brazil today, the social norms of dress (usually nudity in the film), and the fusion of sexuality and cannibalism. The relationship between Tropicalismo and the film is that both are art forms that represent the distinct style of Brazilian culture. Thus, by relating the concept of cannibalism more closely to this Brazilian culture in this film, it adds a necessary degree of realism to a topic that is otherwise difficult to relate to.

See Also

Greenblatt, Stephen. Renaissance Self-Fashioning: More to Shakespeare. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1980.

Hulme, Peter. Colonial Encounters: Europe and the Native Caribbean 1492-1797. London: Methuen, 1986.

King, John. Magical Reels: A History of Cinema in Latin America. London, New York: Verso, 2000.

Mraz, John. "Pereira dos Santos, Nelson." International Dictionary of Film and Filmmakers - 2. Ed. Nicholas Thomas. 2nd. ed. Chicago: St. James, 1991.

Nagib, Lucia. Brazil on Screen: Cinema Novo, New Cinema, Utopia. New York: Tauris, 2007.

Nogueira, Claudia Barbosa. "Journeys of Redemption: Discoveries, Re-discoveries, and Cinematic Representations of the Americas." Ph.D. diss. University of Maryland, 2006. http://drum.lib.umd.edu/bitstream/1903/3372/1/umi-umd-3182.pdf

Retamar, Roberto Fernandez. Caliban and Other Essays. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1989.

Rollins, Peter C. The Columbia Companion to American History on Film: How the Movies Have Portrayed the American Past. New York: Columbia UP, 2003.

Vieira, Joao Luis, ed. Cinema Novo and Beyond. New York: Herlin Press Inc., 1998.

Online Resources

Cartelli, Philip. "Como Era Gostoso o Meu Frances (How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman)" http://www.filmint.nu/?q=node/136
"While a more contemporary viewing of How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman might be inclined to consider it alongside a more recent wave of Western films addressing the perspectives of Amerindian/native populations, much of dos Santos' most-discussed film is referential within the context of its culture and time. It does certainly belong to a transnational movement of film expositions of native cultures, but How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman is as Brazilian as bossa nova, and while that forces it to engage with its past and Brazil's present in a serious way, it is also clearly a product of its own time."
Moura, Hudson. "Nelson Pereira dos Santos." Senses of Cinema. http://sensesofcinema.com/2011/great-directors/nelson-pereira-dos-santos/
Overview essay and filmography.
Nelson Pereira dos Santos – Film Reference http://www.filmreference.com/Directors-Pe-Ri/Pereira-dos-Santos-Nelson.html
Biography, bibliography, and list of works