Thursday, February 13, 2014

How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman (1971)

There are a few stories that follow this plotline: Rugged White Man gets captured by Natives, who treat him badly. Eventually, through gumption and good-old civilized know-how, the Rugged White Man gains the respect of the tribe, and in the meantime learns to adapt to their ways.

A Man Called Horse (1970) is the movie that came most often to mind while I watched How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman, a criminally little-known Brazilian flick that follows the same trajectory, though with different results. The Old West is switched out for the Amazon, Native Americans for Native Brazilians, the "hero" is French (of course), and instead of hooks through the pecks, our protagonist is faced with the fate of being cannibalized.

It's worth noting that almost everyone is practically naked, but this is played very straightforwardly;  there's only one distressingly erotic scene between the titular Frenchman and his tribal "wife", and that occurs while she playfully describes in detail his imminent consumption.

A refreshing lack of condescension and white washing towards either party is an additional breath of fresh air. The handheld camerawork is effective in capturing the tribe's daily life and customs, and how the Frenchman tries to adapt in order to survive. It's an unusual little film with a subtle disturbing commentary on imperialism that I would highly recommend checking out if you can.