Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos,
Milton Gonçalves, Ivan de Almeida, Rodrigo Santoro, Lázaro Ramos, Caio Blat, Wagner Moura

"Film based on real life experiences of doctor Drauzio Varella inside dreadful State penitentiary Carandiru"

Prison Break

If you watch CNN international on a daily basis, you would have seen news about those jail riots in far flung places like Colombia and Brazil. Well this movie focuses on real events which occurred in 1992 at a prison in the town of Carandiru, somewhere in Brazil. The prison was originally built to accommodate 4,000 prisoners but soon its population ballooned to overcrowded capacity with 7,500 men. They are jailed for different offenses from rape, robbery, arson to various petty crimes. Quite lenient atmosphere prevails within Carandiru, there are no patrol guards roaming the cells, they are placed only at vantage points in strategic locations where they can control the prisoners from a distance. The incarcerated are free to make their imprisoned life as comfortable as possible.
We meet several characters through the eyes of a visiting physician who advocates safe sex to prevent the spread of AIDS. Scenes on how they landed themselves in prison are mixed within the film, providing us a relevant human element factor. Most of them are driven by poverty turning to a never ending cycle of crime with brothers, sons and nephews all in prison paying their rightful dues to society. It is a very menacing situation and certainly rampant in third world countries. Towards the end of the movie, things get rather violent once a riot erupts and the government through the riot police react with brutal force. The pace of the film is good enough for the viewers to stay tuned in order to find out who among the prisoners survive the tragedy. Several scenes also show us how families cope with having their relatives in prison and how daily existence is such a struggle in impoverished nations. Certainly a thought provoking movie which addresses certain relevant social issues. It helps that it is entirely in the Brazilian language with English subtitles, of course. Yet it reaches across the barriers and the different global divides to tell us a true story of human suffering and grave injustice which still occur in most parts of the world, today.

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