Commercially released in Brazil in January 1965, directed by Ruy Guerra


During the peak of a drought in the small town of Milagres [Bahia], the peaceful residents that persist with their crops do not have anything more to eat or to live for. A small military garrison, armed with rifles, are brought to "maintain the order" of the place, or rather, protect the grocery shop of Vicente, the only one who still has provisions. The paths of the military, travelers and local citizens are crossed, with different results. While some soldiers engage with young women of the town, others enjoy themselves firing their rifles to nowhere in the desert – until accidentally killing a resident. At the same time, the former soldier and current truck driver Gaúcho becomes angry about the passivity of the local people towards the unfair starvation, although any action can lead to fatal consequences. Along the beautiful and arid movie, directed by the Mozambican Ruy Guerra, many issues come up – concerning peace and action, politics and morality, justice and survival. The soundtrack is built mostly by "folk" songs, which are added up to the pungent and short main musical theme by Moacir Santos. Among boredom, processions and deaths by shots or starvation, a beautiful film is seen, fatalist and political, of arid poetry.


Directed by Ruy Guerra
Produced by Copacabana Filmes
Screenwriting by Ruy Guerra

Music coordination and Original Theme by Moacir Santos
Sound engineered by Aluizio Vianna
Foley by Geraldo José; Walter Goulart; and Jair Pereira


"Bluishmen" - Released in the album The Maestro [1972]


Out of all the films that Moacir Santos worked on in the 1960s, the film score for Os Fuzis is the one that best fits into the precepts of the Cinema Novo movement, which was very important at the time. This is mainly due to the fact that there is little music throughout the film and to the portrayal of reality created by the diegetic recordings.

The sole musical insertion effectively composed by Santos for the film is a melody played by a solo cello, with a considerably loose and free interpretation. The "main theme" has a very important function in the film’s dramatic-narrative structure, opening and closing cycles of events, and is played only three times throughout the film’s duration of almost two hours. The fact that the excerpt is the soundtrack’s only non-diegetic element further stresses its representativeness.

The construction of the melody alternates the ternary rhythms of the quarter notes with the binary of the eighth notes, including long notes that at times serve as a restful moment and at other times drive the development of the melodic profile. It is worth noting that this melody composed by Santos was used in the introduction of the song "Bluishmen", released in 1972 in The Maestro. In the album, the cello line is transferred to a French horn and various other layers are added, creating a very dense passage, diametrically opposite to its use in the film.

Another interesting specific musical insertion in is that of the percussion instruments. In its first appearance, we see a woman talking about how she became blind and playing a type of reco-reco [a scraping percussion instrument] made from a spring in a small metal box, "scraped" by a piece of metal that looks like a screwdriver. At first she is only playing her improvised instrument in an unstructured fashion, but at a certain moment she begins a regular rhythmic pattern, which is soon heard in a non-diegetic manner in later scenes: the rhythmic structure is juxtaposed over the images of the soldiers walking around the town, and it's possible to consider this sound as an allusion to the rhythmic military marches. The figure of this blind woman playing her improvised instrument recalls the musicians, singers or repentistas [improvisational singers] of the Northeast, traditionally portrayed in the films of the period as musicians with some sort of disability performing in the streets for tips.

The diegetic singing is also an important part of the film’s music. The opening credits describe them as "benditos, sentinelas and [other] Northeastern songs". They usually contain a strongly religious element and are justified by the narrative as well as social representation.

One of the easiest characteristics to perceive when watching the film is that there are long periods of musical silence, and even the dialogues are sparse. This ends up becoming an important esthetic mark, and the most concrete point of approximation with other important Brazilian films of the 1960s, such as Vidas Secas, a film by Nelson Pereira dos Santos adapted from the homonymous novel by Graciliano Ramos.

Since the advent of sound cinema, the esthetic techniques and standards underwent many changes, according to the conditions of production companies in different countries. In Brazil in the 1940s and 1950s, large studios such as Atlântida and Vera Cruz dominated the market and the film scores were quite dense. Starting in the 1960s, when film production underwent a major change, the abundant use of musical insertions began to wane, mirroring a greater poetic maturity of filmmakers along with the financial conditions of the time. However, this change was not an exclusively Brazilian phenomenon and was observed worldwide.

As mentioned earlier, in Os Fuzis, silence alternates with few musical insertions, which gain a special freshness at each appearance, highlighting the musical material, which becomes easier to assimilate, emphasizing the film music’s narrative function.

The following phrase appears in the opening credits for Os Fuzis: "Music coordination and theme - Moacir Santos [benditos, sentinelas and [other] Northeastern songs]". This leads us to believe that Santos played a fundamental role at all stages of the soundtrack production, and not only in the composition of the "main theme", as could have been thought at first. To illustrate this idea, below there is a reproduction of a script with information about the film in a Santos’ personal notebook with notes and appointments:

Reproduction of a page from a notebook in the Santos family personal collection.

Santos structured this production with few musical insertions and a low activity in the soundtrack in general, but it is remarkable how this procedure was certainly the appropriate esthetic choice, as it dialogues with the film as well as with its own cultural and political period.

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