Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


The Return of the Baroque in Xica da Silva


School of Communications


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range





Carlos Diegues has had a long and productive career as a filmmaker in Brazil. A member of the intellectual elite, Diegues was trained as a lawyer and practiced journalism before making his first feature film at the age of 23. One of Cinema Nôvos central figures, Diegues came to international attention with the movement in the 1960s. His career is emblematic of the stylistic experimentation of cinema nôvo, including the use of allegory as a privileged narrative mode. Another typical feature of Diegues oeuvre is a musical track composed by one of Brazils most popular musicians, Jorge Ben Jor. In Xica da Silva (1976), Diegues employs an ersatz Baroque mise-en-scene to tell the story of an 18th century slave who gained freedom from her master and became one of the richest women in colonial Brazil. Set in the historical town of Diamantina, Minas Gerais, Xica represents an Afro-Brazilian heroine who subverts the dominant order with her sexual prowess as she appropriates the music, dress, church and money of the Portuguese colonizers. The success of the film in Brazil inspired an even more elaborate and popular telenovela that reflexively incorporated elements of the historical barroco mineiro to amplify the myth of Xica da Silva.

Conference Name

University Film and Film Association

Conference Location

Bozeman Montana

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