AKA: Baixio das Bestas
Directed by: Claudio Assis
Starring: Mariah Teixeira (Auxiliadora), Fernando Teixeira (Grandfather), Caio Blat (Cicero)
Language: Portuguese (English subtitles)
Genres: Old-Young, Incest, Domestic Abuse, Prostitution, Rape-Sexual-Violence against Women
Plot – Spoilers:
Bog of Beasts is primarily a movie about the abuse of power and the bullshit spewed by those in power to justify its abuse.
Auxiliadora is a 16 year old girl who lives with her grandfather in a poor village in Brazil where sugarcane is the cash crop. The old man pimps her out to truckers and others who frequent a gas station with a catch – they’re not allowed to touch her but can stand around and jerk off. Ironically, the pleasure joint is the back of a church. It turns out that Auxiliadora is a product of his incestuous relationship with his daughter who fled a few years back. The old man therefore lives in perennial fear that Auxiliadora will one day find a boyfriend and get the hell out of there.
The parallel track is of a bunch of rich powerful young men who treat the prostitutes at a local brothel like shit and spend their days in wanton excesses. One of them has a guilty eye on Auxiliadora.
A couple of things strike you in this movie. At every stage there are dangers lurking around, and you wonder how Auxiliadora manages to escape getting raped or abducted until when she does. It’s also fascinating how the old man who’s kind of crippled in one leg manages to exercise so much control over everyone – Auxiliadora, the guy who’s digging outside his home and even his customers (none of them even attempt to take liberties with her).
While Bog of Beasts is a fairly interesting critique of the powerful, it is narrow in that it only looks at the abuse of power by men. In that, it does a pretty great job.
1. The opening scenes:
The hypocrisies are thrust in your face. First, when Cicero is turned on by Auxiliadora’s young body and yet curses the old man for pimping her out. This shocking opening sequence then leads into a conversation between the old man and his friend about everything that’s wrong with the world today.
All these characters seem to believe there is something wrong with the world, and yet their bestial instincts often take precedence. Or it could be that they justify their hypocrisies with – the world is shit and we are merely victims of our times.
2. The rape scenes:
The two scenes with the prostitutes avoid capturing the brutality and come across a bit soft as a result. However the final rape of Auxiliadora by Cicero sheds any such softness and captures the power he wields with his gun. At every moment during it, you can see how he is just a moment away from blowing her brains out and that he wouldn’t care one bit. As his buddy earlier contemptuously remarked – the poor just don’t die easily.