Cannes Classics | Update : 20.12.18 . 1:18 PM

1971: Dutchman George Sluizer gets inside the Amazon rainforest

Film still of Joao A Faca E O Rio (Joao And The Knife)

Film still of Joao A Faca E O Rio (Joao And The Knife) © RR

The most Brazilian of Dutch films. In 1971, George Sluizer wrote and directed João a Faca e o Rio (João and the Knife), inspired by a poem by Odylo Costa Filho. This “strangely obsessive and visually magnificent” film plunges us into the North-eastern Amazon rainforest. Discover it in Cannes Classics in its restored version.

The film. Although Joao is an older man, he falls in love with Maria, who is 19. He marries the charming young girl, but since he can’t give her a child, he wants to provide her with a better life. He sets off into the Amazon rainforest for four years and gets rich harvesting rubber. When he returns, he finds Maria with a little three-year-old girl in her arms and questions his wife’s faithfulness during his absence. This normally simple and honest old man then buys a knife…


Production. Dutchman George Sluizer found inspiration in Brazil through the poem João by Odylo Costa Filho. In the company of the author, he crossed the wild Northeast, fascinated by the Amazon jungle. In 1970, after several months on location, he produced four documentaries, and the following year, he filmed Joao and the Knife, played by the Cinema Novo star Joffre Soares.


Reception. Brazil immediately accepted the film, "the most Brazilian of Dutch films”, and it was selected to represent the country at the Oscars. Joao and the Knife was never a contender for the statue for best foreign film, but critics around the world would praise George Sluizer’s brilliance and judge it as an authentic, powerful and sensitive film.

A presentation by EYE Filmmuseum, Stoneraft Film in collaboration with Haghefilm Digital. 4K restauration using the Techniscope 35mm camera negative filmed by Jan de Bont.

Written by Tarik Khaldi

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