Film: 6107

Places + Locations | 1940 | Sound | B/W

Synopsis:

Rio de Janeiro in the 1940s, beach scenes and Santos Dumont Airport. Plantation owner and workers of various nationalities harvesting on coffee and sugar cane plantation. The processing and exporting of coffee from Santos dock.

A map of South America, Brazil is highlighted, it occupies almost half of the continent, larger that the USA a narrator with an English accent gives the information. A map of Brazil divided into thirds by white lines, the northernmost part of the map is highlighted, the Amazon basin, which yields rubber, cocoa and nuts, these three words come up written across the uppermost third in white capitals, the northeast part of the map is highlighted, the yields are shown by the illuminated words coming up on the screen – tobacco, sugar and cotton, the central and southern coastal uplands, the lower section, is highlighted, the words coffee, livestock and minerals appear on the map, then below, industry and commerce.

A map of the eastern coast of Brazil, the industrial and commercial centres of the region are illuminated by three white points along the coast, the northernmost is Rio de Janeiro, the capital (until 1960), the other two white dots are annotated with the words Sao Paolo and Santos next and described as the great coffee centres.

A view from a tall vegetation covered mountain of the Guanabara Bay area of Rio de Janeiro, two mountains stick up from between sprawling areas of low lying small white buildings, which stretch along a wiggling coastline, on the other side of the bay more development can be seen on an equally mountainous terrain. Copacabana beach, white sand beach busy with people, high rise apartment blocks stretch along a main road, Avenida Atlantica, which runs next to the beach, in the distance behind the buildings a monolithic stone nose shaped mountain, or morro as it is called in Brazil, sticks up at the end of the beach. The centre of the city, a mass of large white buildings, lies on a flat plain below the jagged forested mountains which surround the development, the famous Corcovado peak with the Cristo Redentor, or Christ the Redeemer, statue sticks up from the sharp mountainous landscape, the voiceover describes Rio as a harbour, holiday resort and trading centre.

A plane rolls slowly along a tree lined runway at Santos Dumont airport, the mountains rise up in the distance, behind the trees is a large terminal building, voiceover explains that aviation has contributed to its development and prosperity. The small monoplane turns around on the runway, the propeller is turning, a pilot is sat in the small cockpit, the narrator explains that aeroplanes were convenient transport for Brazilians whose estates were hundreds of miles from their homes in Rio.

Two engineers in caps and white overalls approach the cabin door, one opens it for the pilot and only passenger who steps out of the small aircraft onto the runway, ducking under the wing and waves to the men leaving them with the plane, he is wearing a suit and shirt, a striped tie and has his hair slicked back, a smart looking man with a moustache, Senhor Acevedo, a typical plantation owner, informs the narrator.

Senhor Acevedo gets into his car and closes the door, he has a cigarette holder and lighted cigarette in his mouth. Acevedo drives off down a small road, leaning on the window. Cars in a busy avenue lined with trees and lamp posts, the centre of the city, informs the narrator. Bird’s eye view of a tree filled main avenue in the city centre, possibly Avenida Rio Branco, either side of the avenue are tall multi storey buildings, in the distance the Pao de Acucar and other mountains stretch over the horizon, the voiceover describes Rio not only as a trade but also industrial centre. Pan across buildings in the centre of Rio de Janeiro, to the left is the Cathedral (until 1976). Two large white multi-storey apartment blocks stand next to a large house with a tiled roof on a pretty street with lamp posts and trees.

A large desk covered in photo frames, papers and stationary with two chairs in an elegantly decorated room in a prosperous house, Senhor Acevedo walks around the desk, sits in one of the tall, upholstered chairs and picks up the telephone, the narrator explains that Acevedo directs his plantation, Fazenda Francisco, from his home in Rio’s residential quarter, communicating with his plantation manager via phone calls.

Pan across a desk cluttered with papers and folders to a smart young man in a suit who is speaking on the telephone. Head and shoulders of Sr. Acevedo speaking on his office phone, he nods and looks upwards. A long framed painting of buildings surrounded by trees and a network of roads hangs on the wall, the narrator informs us that Sr. Acevedo’s ancestors received their lands from the King of Portugal three centuries ago.

In the corner of a room next to a cupboard with framed family photos on top, on the wall is a large board covered with photos of various aspects of the plantation, which comprises of 40,000 acres of highland terrain, the voiceover tells us. Pan across landscape with sloping hills and small white square huts evenly spread throughout the fields which are striped with rows of crops, coffee says the narrator, ideal for the well drained slopes and warm temperature. A large track goes up a gentle slope with woodland on one side and fields on the other. A figure walks through a grassy field where horses are grazing, the hills covered in coffee plants in the background, coffee growing is the most important activity in the large community says the voiceover.

A man carrying a ladder his shoulder and a large round sieve in one hand walks ahead of a girl in a head scarf, carrying a rake and a boy wearing a sun hat carrying a small barrel, they are the Silvas, the narrator informs us, a Portuguese family, they are walking down a dusty track between the coffee crops. They turn into a plantation, disappearing amongst the coffee plants, it is harvest time, says the narrator, when the gathering of the ripe berries continues from dawn to dusk for several months. The father stands by the ladder picking coffee from a plant, the boy puts the barrel onto the ground next to the sieve and walks over to the other side of the plant and the girl starts raking between the rows of plants.

The father climbs a ladder to pick coffee from a tall plant as the boy rakes the ground below, there are three steps in the harvesting the narrator says. The father uses his hands to pick from the top branches of the plant, the narrator explains that the berries are stripped from the branches. Close up of his arms and the bare coffee branches. Below the coffee bush the floor is covered with berries. The coffee berries falling onto the dusty ground.

The boy, called Pedro by the narrator, stands in a clearing between the plants raking berries into a large pile. Head and shoulders of Pedro, the wide brimmed straw hat shades his face from the bright sun. The rake moves back and forth along the ground, picking up dust and straw with the coffee berries. Pedro walks around the pile and off between the plants.

His sister Jaquita, the narrator calls her, stands between the piles of berries and debris and scoops it up onto the sieve, she then takes the sieve and tosses the berries to remove all the dust. She tosses the sieve again and again. Her face as she lifts the heavy sieve up and down. The coffee beans in the sieve with the remains of the debris, some twigs and leaves. Jaquita holds the sieve against her body with one arm and uses the other hand to pick out the remaining debris. Close up of her hand removing large pieces of bark from the sieve.

A young boy runs up to a man on a white horse stood next to a long row of uniform wooden cabins, he puts his bare foot in the stirrup and mounts the horse as it turns about. Voiceover narrates that they have been at work for three hours when Sr. Silva’s oldest son, Paolo, takes their young brother Miguel to school, the brothers ride off away from the wooden dwelling, across a very wide and flat road. A man walks alongside a horse and cart down a street with houses to one side and arching trees on the other, Paolo and Miguel ride up beside him at a trot, the narrator says that Miguel is lucky to go to school. The horse canters across a flat grassy field stopping in front of an ornate building with a tiled roof, two other boys run up to the steps at the front of the building, often children have to start working quite young on the plantations says the narrator. Miguel jumps down off the horse and runs up the steps of the building with the other boys.

A woman in a long floral dress and a headscarf stands in a smoke filled kitchen in front of a sink surrounded by pots and pans, behind her three small dogs run about. She walks out the front of the wooden hut, which has a stand with pots of plants outside, she is carrying a white bundle, the narrators informs us that this is Sra Silva, who has prepared a picnic meal to take to the family, she walks off across the road accompanied by a small excited dog.

A boy in a black trilby stands at the top of the ladder on one side of a tall coffee plant stripping the berries off the branches and his father stands on the other side. The boy at the top of the ladder. He is fair haired and paler skinned that the Portuguese family. The arms and face of the father who wears a similar hat and a neckerchief, the narrator explains that workers come from many parts of Europe. A dark skinned woman in a white headscarf tosses coffee berries, some, of mixed ancestry are called mestizos says the narrator. A smiling girl in a wide brimmed hat and a white blouse picking berries. Some are negroes says the narrator, a black boy with the sieve tossing the berries. An old man with fair hair and a large moustache leans over, looking down at something. A boy with a skullcap, pinstriped trousers and a shirt tosses the berries high into the air.

Sra Silva walks up a dirt track among the coffee plants and turns off into one of the plantations. A man in an old suit carrying a stick emerges from a row of coffee plants where workers are picking berries and walks past them, the voiceover narrates that this is the foreman, about to give the signal for the morning break. The foreman walks into a space between the plants. He lifts a horn to his mouth and blows a signal. An old man in a straw hat lights a pipe. The boy in the skullcap drinks from a small wooden barrel.

Sra. Silva is laying out bottles and food, bread beans and coffee, in the clearing next to the ladder, her family come over. Sr. Silva pours water from a hole in the small wooden barrel into a cup. Jaquita sits on the bottom rung of the ladder and plays with the small friendly dog which has its front paws up on her lap, she scratches it under the chin. Sra Silva in a chequered headscarf raises a glass bottle to her lips, the sky above is full of fluffy clouds.

A young woman with black hair leans over a hammock which is strung up in the shade between two plants and rocks a tiny crying baby. The Silva family are gathered around eating hunks of bread with their hands. A Slavic looking man stands chewing on a piece of bread.

A large group of children sit in a semi circle in front of a female teacher in the middle of a grassy field with a line of trees in the background. The face of the young teacher, she has black wavy hair and round glasses, she speaks to the children. A young boy looking to the side is wearing an alpine hat. A black girl, her short hair styled with pins smiles, next to her a black girl with longer hair. A Nordic looking boy with fair hair, looking away, he is holding a Portuguese class book called Meninice, the narrator says that the class represents many peoples but they all speak Portuguese. The face of a dark skinned girl with a white flower in her hair, she smiles. The girl is sitting in a group of ethnically diverse children.

Paolo on the white horse rides up to the steps of a doorway in a large brick building where a horse is tied up outside, he runs errands says the narrator. He sits on the horse and waits outside the office of the Fazenda manager, a young boy is sat against the wall holding the other horse on the corner of the building, the manager, wearing a checked suit, comes out and passes him a note, a message for the sugar cane weighing sheds, sugar cane is the most important thing after coffee the narrator informs us, Paolo rides off around the corner. Paolo rides across the sparse landscape through a wide street past a large warehouse with three tall round silos standing outside, he rides around the corner of a street of small buildings. Paolo comes out between some pretty white houses with tiled roofs and verandas, the homes of the plantation foremen, says the narrator, Paolo crosses the road into cane fields on the other side.

A dark skinned woman in a wide brimmed hat peels the cane with a machete and throws it to one side. She is wearing a colourful headscarf, the hat shades her face, the narrator informs that sugar can used to be Brazil’s staple crop. A boy stands knee deep in sugar cane leaves, he leans and cuts a piece of cane, now its growth is being encouraged to prevent a dependence on coffee the narrator says. A small dark skinned boy in overalls works in the fields. Paolo o the horse emerges from the tall sugar cane crop to the clearing where a group of men are working cutting them down. He stops as one of the workers passes him a piece of the cane which he starts to chew on, he rides off.

A long queue of horses and carts loaded with sugar cane line up on the dusty track next to the weighing shed. Paolo canters past the wagons loaded with cane. He rides up behind the first in line to the door of the small brick weighing shed. He dismounts the horse by the shed and passes the message to a man who is leaning against the wall, a small boy perches on the bank of a harvested cane field alongside. They go through the doorway into the shed.

Jaquita crouches down with the large sieve and pulls an open sack around it. She stands and tips the coffee berries into the sack, behind standing in between the rows of coffee plants a man is raking. The sieve now emptied Jaquita walks off and her father comes and ties up the now full sack, he lifts it onto his shoulder and walks off. He walks down through the plants carrying the sack. Six mules are standing waiting on a dusty track, they are harnessed to a wagon. The head and shoulders of Sr Silva as he pushes the sack up onto the cart. A man comes from the plantation with a sack on his shoulder and puts it on a pile of full sacks at the end of the row of coffee plants. The face of a smiling Japanese man in a straw hat.

A line of mules take a heavily laden wagon of sacks of coffee past a palm tree filled square with an ornate arch and a statue. Men unload the wagon next to a huge vat of coffee berries where two men stand on top raking through them. The men stand in hats and vests raking the berries. A narrow channel of water, a sluice, carries the coffee berries along. A man in a hat stands by the sluice with a wooden paddle, pushing the water along. The sluice is a complex concrete structure which splits in two, built on a platform above a flat area where a man is working.

A woman holds a scoop which spreads out the wet berries from one small cart into another. The flat area below is a drying platform, a man with a cart empties berries while two others spread them out flat in the sun, on the platform above tall palm trees stand. Three workers, dressed in white walk along spreading out the beans evenly with t-shaped wooden implements, working alongside the man with the cart. Close up of the wooden tools pushing the berries out. The head of the tool pushing through the sea of coffee berries. At the end of the day tarpaulins are laid down to protect the berries, the voiceover narrates, two workers hold either side of a large tarpaulin which they drape over a large pile of coffee berries.

Children stand in white shirts in the pews of a church, staring at the altar where candles have been lit, the priest stands next to the altar. The worker boys stand on one side of the priest and the girls on the other. Two men and an old woman also stand, further back, attending the service. A group of children of all ages, two older girls hold babies in bonnets. Girls file down the aisle after the service has finished.

Cranes lift crates onto a huge cargo ship at the port of Santos. Two train wagons of coffee sacks are unloaded by a group of men in hats and caps. They drop them down a hole in the ground between the two tracks, to an underground conveyor system. A man in a cap directs the sacks of coffee off the conveyor belt, which runs parallel to the docks and cranes, into a metal tunnel. Dockers wait around as other carry the large sacks of coffee on their backs, a harness on a crane lifts a pile of sacks in front of them. The sacks are slowly swung over to some double doors at the bottom of the cargo ship where a group of men wait to receive them, a man in a shirt and hat walks over to them as they lower down to steady the load. The front of the cargo ship, it is flying an US flag. The back of the cargo ship, beyond it, on the other side of the water is a landscape of mountains. Through the labour of different people Brazil is able to produce more than two thirds of the world’s supply of coffee says the narrator, a panorama of a town bay and the dark mountains at sunset.


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