Posted in: Disc Reviews by William O'Donnell on July 4th, 2011
The story begins with the immediate validation of superstition. Anesi Gebara is the head of an illegal lottery and so numbers are crucially linked to his life, both in his work and in the aforementioned superstitions that haunt his life.
The first episode features Gebara’s dearest son, Anesinho, killing himself, and the rest of the series follows his remaining 3 sons as they vie to take Anesinho’s respected place. As seems to be customary with the majority of HBO programs, dark secrets about each character’s past come to light before our eyes. Said secrets often involving lurid sex and death (again, staples in the HBO realm).
The mixture of superstition and religion means the audience becomes very familiar with the graveyard. Animals and numbers, which are the key factors in the “animal lottery” game that is played in Brazil (a lottery where animals are assigned sections of numbers between 1 and 100 and can be bet on either by number or name) also play heavily into the themes and superstitious elements of the show, such as their placements in foretelling dreams as well as real-life situations.
The performances are laced with strong emotions as each actor strives for a respectable balance between gritty realism and melodrama. The stories rely more heavily on the reactions of the characters, than on the situations themselves, so having strong lead actors is key. With that said, the 3 brothers deliver well enough.
The box set I have had a printing flaw where the last three episodes of season two were printed twice, in lue of having the finales for season one and two, meaning I did not see all that transpired in the transition of seasons, but did experience the final wrap up. The characters go through tremendous arcs and not all of whom we become very familiar with survive to see the tribute murals painted inside the enormous samba hall that mark the end of the series’ story.
Widescreen 2.35:1. The picture is thoroughly hazy. Had this come in lesser packaging, one might almost be tempted to cry “bootleg” when witnessing the faded colours and unfocused lines. Mind you, the majority of that seems to be the responsibility of those that shot it, and not those that translated it to DVD. It is unfortunate at times considering how varied and interesting the visuals can be.
Considering the ratio it is presented in, it should be noted that it has not been expanded for larger televisions, so blowing it up to fit a Widescreen television will add to any distrotion of the picture qulairt.
A Dolby Digital production in its original Portugese, with subtitles available in Spanish and English. The heavy and dramatic score is full bodied while the dialogue is relatively clean. You can hear the room at many points, but that only places you in the moment more. Of course, the drumming sounds spectacular
Only 13 episodes exist, but every twenty minutes of the hour long episodes, you feel like you have to catch your breath. This is a great series for those looking to get a rich story based in a culture they may know nothing about. Familiar emotions and tension in an alien land. Worth taking a chance on.