Torquato Neto for Beginners

By Thayná Almeida

TORQUATO NETO – EVERY HOUR OF THE END relies on a didactic narrative that presents the poet to new generations, but doesn’t account for the complexities of his personality.

TORQUATO NETO – EVERY HOUR OF THE END, screening at the Rio Festival, is another work of a subgenre experiencing a real commercial popularity in recent Brazilian cinema, the biographical documentary, due, especially, to its ease of adaptation to different viewing media, such as television and the internet.

The film by Eduardo Ades and Marcus Fernando is dedicated to the poet, lyricist, journalist and filmmaker Torquato Neto, who killed himself at the age of 28, presenting him within the most banal conventions, as a figure permeated by existential questions - a profound artist in a basic documentary, which could be a successful product from theaters to Netflix.

The conventions that facilitate this ease of consumption on various platforms allow for immediate communication capable of taking the audience away from its comfort zone and, for a moment, they are able to empathize with a unique figure who was part of the 60s’ and 70s’ counterculture in artistic manifestations such as Tropicália and Marginal Cinema.

It is a simplistic opposition, which believes that in order to approach a complex individual, it is necessary to provide evidence, with a collage of testimonies with its traditional structure disguised by visual effects, particularly the granulation and the suppression of the synchrony between image and sound – we see a speaker, but not the moment of the speech itself, only the sound.

The structure of the film, in this case, reveals it is lacking, since, it is less sustained by Torquato’s memory and more by the memories of friends concatenated in linear montage, incapable of enclosing the artist within the sum of what we see on the screen, as it seems be its goal.

The documentary might perhaps recognize the limitation of its didacticism and make visible possible gaps in memory, the intermission, the dubiousness of this place of uncertainty generated by the reconstitution of one’s life who has been dead for decades. The linearity of the film denies the audience, therefore, the possibility of staying in this place, instigated to better understand the artist while being content with the impossibility of having a complete understanding.

The few moments of success of this collage of memories are those achieved by editing, juxtaposition of stronger testimonies, in the emotional sense, to Torquato’s musical work, especially with the use of Gal Costa interpretations. These moments are touching and at the same time create distance, since they reveal the film’s search of Torquato’s work to fill spaces of uncertainty. Despite the immense beauty of the poet’s work, in the film, it becomes a tool, a narrative crutch.

This is the film's failure trademark: despite being able to present an important artist to generations unfamiliar with him, it makes the mistake of trying to tame a personality within a simple narrative and to use his words as a plaything.