DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema
Blending documentary, theatre and literature into one large and broad tropical melting pot

Brazilian cinema will always need Eduardo Coutinho. He died in tragic circumstances in February 2014, murdered by his schizophrenic son, but his legacy lives on. He remains a reference for filmmakers in Brazil and beyond. His documentaries consistently expose and question the fine line between fiction and truth. For example, in Edifício Master (2002) a woman tells lies. Coutinho explained: “I am a truthful liar; I lie but I say the truth” (taken from ‘Celebrating the Work of Eduardo Coutinho’, by Cecilia Sayad).

Moscou is the result of a collaboration between Coutinho and theatre company Grupo Galpão. Coutinho proposed that the group recreate Anton Chekhov’s play ‘Three Sisters’ in just three weeks, the structure of the film being a collage of workshop, improvisation and rehearsal fragments, all taking place in their theatre building in Belo Horizonte.

The film is a long conversation about past and present, Russian traditions, Brazilian folklore and the role of the actors. We see the actors in the process of creating their characters and incorporating their own personal dilemmas into Chekhov’s fictional creatures. Some of the scenic objects are meaningful for the actors, but not part of the original play. Coutinho skilfully subverts the drama genre, thereby creating a new kind of documentary.

Coutinho did not merely shoot a play. It is common to reproduce plays in films, as with playwright and filmmaker director David Mamet. Mamet’s films are quite static, and the stage is immaculate and sacred. In Moscou, on the other hand, everything is desecrated: the dressing-room, the actors having lunch while they memorise their lines, the escape door to Moscow (a chalk drawing on the wall).

Moscou is an in-depth analysis of Chekhov’s ‘Three Sisters’, in the same way Looking for Richard (Al Pacino, 1996) is an examination of Shakespeare’s ‘Richard III’. Both Coutinho and Pacino foreground the construction of the characters. They also pay a tribute to classic writers. Italian writer Italo Calvino explained in ‘Why Read Classics’: “the classics are books that exert a peculiar influence, both when they refuse to be eradicated from the mind and when they conceal themselves in the folds of memory, camouflaging themselves as the collective or individual unconscious”.

The movie questions the boundaries of film directing, thereby deconstructing the relation between cinema, theatre and literature. It is unclear who is in charge of the work: is it Coutinho as the film director, or Enrique Diaz as the theatre director?

Coutinho plays with these boundaries throughout the entire film. Were the lines written by Chekhov or created by the actors? The use of photos when introducing some characters also generates doubts. Who are these people? Are they related to the actors? The answers to these questions are not important.

Unfortunately Coutinho’s work is little known outside of Brazil. DMovies aims to change this by helping to divulge his personal and groundbreaking style of documentary-making, unparalleled anywhere else in the world. Moscou was selected as one of 16 dirtiest Brazilian films of the past 10 years.

By Maysa Moncao - 23-02-2016

Maysa Monção is a Brazilian writer, teacher, translator, editor and art performer who currently lives in London. She has a Masters Degree in Film Studies from Tor Vergata University in Rome, Italy, ...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Sexual diversity is at the very heart of [Read More...]
Films quotes are very powerful not just because [Read More...]

Read More



Duda Leite - 08-12-2023

Congo born and Belgium-based Baloji’s debut feature is packed with original ideas and robust visual concepts, in an dazzling ode to the struggles of the African diaspora - international co-production of six African and European nations shows at from the 3rd Red Sea International Film Festival [Read More...]

In the Shadow of Beirut

Garry Keane
Stephen Gerard Kelly

Victor Fraga - 07-12-2023

Two marginalised communities of Lebanon see no hope and no light, in gloomy doc about the country’s refusal and inability to integrate its most vulnerable people - from the 3rd Red Sea International Film Festival [Read More...]

24 Hours with Gaspar (24 Bersama Gaspar)

Yosep Anggi Noen

Joshua Bogatin - 07-12-2023

High-octane Indonesian drama about a man prescribed with 24 hours to live due to cardiac problems will not get your heart beating fast - from the 3rd Red Sea International Film Festival [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *