Dying to Live

by Eliana Nzualo

Entao Morri

I died. I don’t know exactly when but one day I woke up and was dead. What did I do next? The film by Bia Lessa opens with a dead body with gray hair and wrinkled skin. It is the body of someone who lived through many seasons.

The woman in the casket looks peaceful. Her family is upset at her passing, and we are obliged to confront our own mortality. The film starts by looking back, beginning with death and moving to birth. In a story spanning 19 years, Bia Lessa looks at women representing a range of ages, experiences and Brazilian realities. Daughters, mothers, granddaughters, lovers, wives, girlfriends, all at difficult crossroads involving difficult experiences that one woman lives through, until she is born, and finds herself. Lives lived with little suicides, small deaths to make room for new experiences both for the women themselves, as well as for the women in their lives. In Então Morri (Then I Died) the notion of woman develops throughout the film, starting at the end, facing inevitable final destiny of our existence. One must die a little to live.

Death is seen here as nothing if it not the eternal beginning of the trip toward living and the incessant urge to feel the pulsation of being. One of the most notable women allows herself the luxury of drinking several cups of cachaça liquor as she carries out her familiar errands. She gets a special playful thrill with each sip she takes on her shopping trip. She shares her private happiness with the people she meets on her trips into town, but not with her husband. The rebellious girl died to make way for the woman she wanted to be.

This is the situation of many women: living with the secrets of their solitude. At times shared with friends, but unknown by the men with whom they share their lives. To be a woman is to be at odds with life and to constantly negotiate in order not to die along the way. Women must retain a sense of innocence, humility and discovery. Then I died. I don’t know exactly when but one day I woke up and was dead. What did I do next?