Saludos Amigos, Brazil y WALL-E
As I mentioned in my previous post “On Wall-E Watch,” the music that is being used for the WALL-E trailer is the theme music for the new ABC show, ELI STONE.
THE BRAZIL CONNECTION
It turns out that this upbeat tune is actually “Aquarela do Brasil,” composed by Ari Barroso amid political oppression in Brazil in 1939!
A beautiful, exotic composition evoking tropical breezes with a soaring melody, I discovered that this composition is recognized as one of the most popular Brazilian songs of all time and has, in fact, been used for many films and TV shows for nearly 70 years!
To begin this exploration, here is a clip of Aquarela do Brasil as it appeared for the first time on screen in Walt Disney’s SALUDOS AMIGOS (1942)- a movie that celebrated the culture and dream-like beauty of Brazil:
Many pop culture addicts (like me) have made assumptions that the use of Aquarela do Brasil in WALL-E and ELI STONE was done as a “wink wink” homage to Terry Gilliam’s cult classic film BRAZIL which is rumored to have been inspired as a dystopian response to this idealistic tune.
Here is a clip from the film: (note that content may not be appropriate for kids):
According to Wikipedia, Gilliam’s BRAZIL “centers on Sam Lowry, a young man trying to find a woman who appears in his dreams while he is working in a mind-numbing job and living a life in a small apartment, set in a dystopian world in which there is an over-reliance on poorly maintained (and rather whimsical) machines.”
Often grouped as center of a trilogy of Gillian’s other classics TIME BANDITS and THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN, the film has many strong themes related to escape from bureaucracy, social disorder and the importance of the imagination for survival. Many critics – like me – have cited BRAZIL as one of the greatest Sci-Fi films of all time.
Still with me?
Set 700 years into the future, WALL-E also has a strong themes of a disfunctional society and a world gone wrong by small thinking.
According to John Lasseter, “WALL-E is the story of the last little robot on Earth. He is a robot and his programming was to help clean up…Through consumerism, rampant, unchecked consumerism, the Earth was covered with trash. And to clean up, everyone had to leave Earth and set in place millions of these little robots that went around to clean up the trash and make Earth habitable again.”
Check out this teaser for the film:
Similarly, the new television series on ABC – ELI STONE (now famous for the appearance of George Michael on the pilot episode) – explores how an open mind can be out of place in “civilized” society.
In this instance, a thirty-something attorney begins having larger-than-life visions that compel him to do out-of-the-ordinary things. Here is a promo clip for the show featuring the same music:
Clearly, this seemingly simple work of music has become an audio icon for liberation and imagination as a means of escape.
Not to get too philosophical (I tend to do that), I thought that I would end by sharing an English translation of the sometimes-used lyrics to Aquarela do Brasil with you.
…of course, I will leave the interpretation of their meaning to you. After all, inspiration comes in many forms.
Aquarela do Brasil
(English lyrics by S.K. “Bob” Russell)
The Brazil that I knew
Where I wandered with you
Lives in my imagination.
Where the songs are passionate,
And a smile has flash in it,
And a kiss has art in it,
For you put your heart in it,
And so I dream of old Brazil
Where hearts were entertaining June,
We stood beneath an amber moon
And softly murmured “someday soon”
We kissed and clung together,
Then tomorrow was another day
The morning found me miles away
With still a million things to say
Now when twilight dims the sky above,
Recalling thrills of our love,
There’s one thing I’m certain of;
Return I will
To old Brazil.