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Tribute to Marlon Brando in Locarno with Burn


The 57th edition of the Locarno International Film Festival will honour and
commemorate Marlon Brando on Saturday August 7. The film chosen to
remind us of the tremendous actor who died recently is Queimada, made in
1969 by Gillo Pontecorvo, who will be attending the festival in Locarno to
celebrate Brando’s extraordinary performance and to discuss their work
together on a memorably turbulent production. Written by the director in
collaboration with Franco Solinas and shot in Cartagena das Indias in
Colombia, Queimada will be screened in its original English language version
on the Piazza Grande’s giant screen; at the very moment when the uncut
version will be re-released in the United States (English title: Burn!)

In Marlon Brando’s filmography, Queimada is part of that period in which he
distanced himself from Hollywood, in the early 60s. Indeed, after having
played so many different roles— from Shakespearean tragedy, (Julius
Caesar, Mankiewicz, 1953) to maritime adventure (Mutiny on the Bounty,
Milestone, 1961) via musical comedy (Guys and Dolls, Mankiewicz,1955)
—,won an Oscar with On the Waterfront (Kazan,1954) and directed a
western (One-Eyed Jacks, 1960), Brando reduced his workload
considerably, either choosing blockbusters for the money or projects he cared
about. Queimada is definitely in the latter category. Indeed, Brando held Gillo
Pontecorvo in great esteem, since he shared his political views, and got quite
involved in his character as an agent in the pay of the British government. In
the 19th century, Sir William Walker disembarks at Queimada, an island in the
Antilles, to put an end to the Portuguese trading monopoly. With the
assistance of José Dolorès, a rebellious slave, he instigates a coup d’état and
installs a mixed-race government. But José Dolorès takes up arms again to
topple the government set up by the English. Shot in 1968 in Cartagena das
Indias in Colombia, this scathing attack on colonialism was a turbulent
production: due to the tropical climate, budget problems and the difficulty of
matching the performances of the amateur actors, such as Evaristo Marquez
who played José Dolorès, with that of the great disciple of the Actor’s Studio
Method. Unsettled, Brando became nervous, «as skittish as any
thoroughbred» says Pontecorvo. But the final result was excellent: the actors’
performances, the strength of the story, the score by Ennio Morricone make it
a film to (re)discover.

by Gillo Pontecorvo - Italie - 1969, 112 min
with Marlon Brando, Evaristo Márquez, Norman Hill, Renato Salvatori, Dana


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