The film tells the story of a real person, who lived in Bahia, a Brazilian state. The facts that the film shows happened in 1924. Manoel Henrique Pereira was born in 1895. Capoeira fighters change their names upon graduation; the ceremony is called christening. Therefore, Manoel became Besouro de Mangangá (Aílton Carmo), which means Mangangá Beetle. The film starts with the murder of Master Alípio (Macalé), Besouro's coach. Master Alípio was killed by bodyguards of Colonel Venâncio (Flávio Rocha), an officer of the extinct Brazilian National Guard. Since Besouro was in charge of protecting Master Alípio, capoeira fighters and other members of the black community deemed him responsible for the death of the old coach. Therefore, he was not allowed to take part of the coach's funerals.
After the death of Alípio, bodyguards of Colonel Venâncio intensified oppression against the black community. At some point of the story, Besouro starts a kind of guerrilla warfare, setting fire to plantations, and destroying machineries. Venâncio's bodyguards retaliated with punitive actions against the black community. Quero-quero (Ânderson Santos), a friend of Besouro's, concludes that the best policy was to side with Colonel Venâncio against Besouro. Dinorá (Jéssica Barbosa), a capoeira fighter and Quero-quero's lover, takes the side of Besouro, and leaves Quero-quero.
Many Brazilian negroes (they prefer this denomination) believe in the existence of Orixás, gods of Nature. Even today, people believe that Exu, a god, protected Bersouro against atacks of his enemies. Upset by the loss of his wife, Quero-quero reveals to Colonel Venâncio that the best way of neutralizing Exu's protection was to attack Besouro with a knife made of a certain wood. Venâncio's bodyguards prepare the knife, and kill Besouro.
At the time of Besouro's death, Dinorá was pregnant of his son. The film ends with one of Besouro's friends teaching capoeira to the son of Besouro and Dinorá.
Capoeira is an acrobatic art of self-defense, that one can see in films like Harry-Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Meet the Fockers, etc. It requires skills that are similar to Artistic Gymnastics. All actors are extremely skilfull. In many theaters, Brazilians gave a standing ovation to Jéssica Barbosa's scene, when her personage avoids being raped by Colonel Venâncio by dropping her knive, and leading him to believe that she was helpless. Jéssica moves rapidly stepping on the wall of her house, and attacks the enemy with powerful kicks. It is worthwhile to see this scene.
Nobody knows for sure how Besouro was killed. The film shows one of the many reconstructions of his death. In 1973, I interviewed one of his students in São Jose dos Campos and, as far as I remember, his reconstruction of the story was very similar to the version presented in the film.
Cast: Ailton Carmo, Anderson Santos De Jesus
Distributor: Parkit Film
Weight: 0.20 Kg