Four Days in September
(Cuatro dìas de Septiembre)


Four Days in September (Cuatro Dìas de Septiembre)
Made in: Brazil
Language: Portuguese, English
Director: Bruno Barreto
Starring: Pedro Cardoso, Fernanda Torres, Alan Arkin
Year: 1998

From the novel O Que è Isso, Companheiro? (What's up, Comrade?") by Fernando Gabeira.

Synopsis: Set in 1969 during a turbulent time in Brazil's history, Four Days in September is based on the true story of Fernando Gabeira (played by Pedro Cardoso), who, at the time, was a passionate journalist who participated in a number of political demonstrations in opposition to Brazil's dictatorial regime.

Seeking a way to become more involved with his cause, he joins the leftist terrorist group, MR-8. Although sympathizing with the core ideology of MR-8, Gabeira soon learns that his political views may have to be carried out with violence.

But does this slightly nerdy intellectual have what it takes to be a killer if necessary?

In need of funding for their underground activities, Gabeira and other MR-8 members attempt a bank robbery that goes bad. During the escape, one of their comrades gets captured.

With their operation in jeopardy, Gabeira participates in a bold plot to kidnap the US ambassador, Charles Elbrick (played by Alan Arkin).

The plan is to bring international attention to their cause, and to force Brazil's government to release all political prisoners in four days in exchange for Elbrick's life...

Remarks: Let's not BS here. Filmmaking is an industry dominated largely by left-wing thinking, and most modern political thrillers, dramas, and documentaries cater to the idea that Liberal = Good, and Conservative = Bad.

Think of films like Fahrenheit 911, Redacted, Rendition, Lions for Lambs, Taxi to the Dark Side, etc. and you'll know what I mean.

Plus I went to film school so I've had first hand experience in listening to plenty of anti-establishment indoctrination/ranting from professors.

But I'm not here to bash "whiny" liberals, "mean-spirited" conservatives, or anyone else.

Rather, I'm here to point out some of the greatest strengths of Bruno Barreto's Four Days in September. Released before 9/11, it's worth watching today, especially in our current politically polarized times.

The film does not equate military right-wing dictatorships with all conservatives, and neither does it immediately portray all downtrodden, left-wing rebels as noble freedom fighters.

One of Barreto's most important messages is about the dangers of political extremism of any kind. This is illustrated clearly in a brief scene in which one of Gabeira's friends points out that Brazil's dictatorship and Gabeira's cause are like "two ends of a magnet." Although in direct opposition with each other, they are in reality, very close together.

And instead of dealing with caricatures, Barreto does a great job putting a human face on both the members of dissident MR-8 and the government agents hunting them.

Gabeira realizes that although his cause is just, there are authority figures on his side who are just as cruel and dangerous as the very regime they are fighting against.

And at the same time, the government agent in charge of tracking Gabeira's group is portrayed as somewhat morally conflicted by the methods he's ordered to employ in dealing with political prisoners. And he understands that any violent overthrow of the current regime by an extremist group would lead to another oppressive dictatorship.

Four Days in September isn't just a well-made film about a dramatic historical event, nor is it just a good cinematic example of balance and fair-mindedness in politically charged times.

It's a lesson in thinking through the implications of your ideological beliefs, and the possible dangers of blindly upholding them simply for emotional and theoretical reasons.

Fernando Gabeira currently serves in the Brazilian government as a federal deputy from Rio De Janeiro, and is a member of Brazil's progressive Green Party (which he helped create).

(3 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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