Four Days in September
|Four Days in September|
Original film poster
|Directed by||Bruno Barreto|
|Produced by||Lucy Barreto
Luiz Carlos Barreto
|Written by||Leopoldo Serran|
|Based on||O Que É Isso, Companheiro?
by Fernando Gabeira
Luiz Fernando Guimarães
|Music by||Stewart Copeland|
|Edited by||Isabelle Rathery|
Filmes do Equador
Luiz Carlos Barreto Produções Cinematográficas
|Box office||R$1.8 million|
Four Days in September (Portuguese: O Que É Isso, Companheiro?) is a 1997 Brazilian thriller film directed by Bruno Barreto and produced by his parents Lucy and Luiz Carlos Barreto. It is a fictional version of the 1969 kidnapping of the United States Ambassador to Brazil, Charles Burke Elbrick, by members of Revolutionary Movement 8th October (MR-8) and Ação Libertadora Nacional (ALN).
The film is "loosely based" on the 1979 memoir O Que É Isso Companheiro? (in English: What's This, Comrade?), written by politician Fernando Gabeira. In 1969, as a member of Revolutionary Movement 8th October (MR-8), a student guerrilla group, he participated in the abduction of the United States ambassador to Brazil, negotiating to gain release of leftist political prisoners. MR-8 was protesting the recent takeover of Brazil by a military government and seeking the release of political prisoners. But, the military increased its repression of dissent, MR-8 and ALN members were tortured by the police, and democracy was not re-established in Brazil until 1989.
The film is a fictional version of the dramatic events of the 1969 abduction of the American ambassador Charles Burke Elbrick (played by Alan Arkin) in 1969. Elbrick was taken in Rio de Janeiro by the Revolutionary Movement 8th October (MR-8) with help of Ação Libertadora Nacional (ALN). Gabeira (played by Pedro Cardoso and named Paulo in the film) as a student joins the radical movement after the military takeover of the Brazilian government. He and his comrades, led by Andréia, gradually decided to kidnap the ambassador as a protest, and are shown mostly planning and executing the kidnapping. Paulo is portrayed as "the most intelligent and uncertain of the kidnappers."
The film explores Paulo's love affair with Andréia, the guerrilla leader. It suggests a kind of friendship developing between Paulo and Elbrick. The ambassador is portrayed as a decent man who shares some of his kidnappers' frustrations regarding the Brazilian military dictatorship, but who feels obligated to follow orders he might disagree with.
An epilogue touches on political history after the kidnapping, when repression continued.
The main characters include:
- Paulo / Fernando Gabeira (Pedro Cardoso) - one of the kidnappers.
- Andréia / Maria (Fernanda Torres) - the beautiful and tough guerrilla leader who falls in love with Fernando.
- Charles Burke Elbrick (Alan Arkin) - the American ambassador, who forms a kind of friendship with Fernando.
- Jonas / Virgílio Gomes da Silva (Matheus Nachtergaele) - from ALN
- Marcão / Franklin Martins (Luiz Fernando Guimarães)
- Renée / Vera Sílvia Magalhães (Cláudia Abreu)
- Toledo / Joaquim Câmara Ferreira (Nélson Dantas) - from ALN
- Henrique (Marco Ricca)
- Brandão (Maurício Gonçalves)
- Júlio / Vladimir Palmeira (Caio Junqueira)
- César / Oswaldo (Selton Mello)
- Dona Margarida / Elba Souto-Maior (Fernanda Montenegro)
- Lília (Alessandra Negrini)
- Mowinkel (Fisher Stevens)
The film had mixed reviews, in part because of its fictionalizing Brazilian history, and its uneasy portrayal of terrorist activities by student radicals. Stephen Holden of the New York Times wrote, "Four Days in September is an uneasy hybrid of political thriller and high-minded meditation on terrorism, its psychology and its consequences." He noted that the film suggests the kidnapping was followed by worse political events, with increased repression, and torture of MR-8 members. He describes Cardoso as the most complex character.
Roger Ebert gave it two stars, saying the film was marked by a "quiet sadness" and the "film examines the way that naive idealists took on more than they could handle." He suggests that the film tries to humanize both sides but seems muddled. Ebert writes, "The point of view is that of a middle-age man who no longer quite understands why, as a youth, he was so sure of things that now seem so puzzling."
- List of submissions to the 70th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
- List of Brazilian submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
- "Filmes Brasileiros Lançados - 1995 a 2012" (PDF) (in Portuguese). Ancine. p. 33. Archived from the original on March 1, 2014. Retrieved June 2, 2014.
- "The 70th Academy Awards (1998) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- [ STEPHEN HOLDEN, Review: Four Days in September/"The Political Kidnapping Of an Ambassador Retold"], New York Times, 30 January 1998, accessed 24 January 2014
- Roger Ebert, Review: Four Days in September (1998), 6 February 1998, Roger Ebert website
- "Berlinale: 1997 Programme". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2012-01-08.