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Barren Lives (Vidas Secas)

Based on a famous novel by Graciliano Ramos, Vidas Secas is a chronicle of the day-to-day existence of a family of drought-ridden migrants who trek along the dusty roads of the impoverished Northeast's vast Sertao, and whose oppression by the parched landscape and the land-owning class is viewed in the stark and simple tones of great tragedy. Compared to Rocha's epics of the Sertao, Vidas Secas is a work of classic restraint and direct methods. One has to look to Bunuel's Land Without Bread for a film as pitiless in its refusal to sentimentalize or romanticize poverty, as uncompromising in its documentation of a culture of hunger and despair.

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