The adaptation of Carandiru Station, a best-seller by Drauzio Varella, Carandiru proposes diving into the heart of São Paulo's prison, the largest in Latin America with approximately 7,000 prisoners with a capacity for 4,500. Guided by a humanist doctor (the author) who has an affection for the prisoners, the audience shares in the daily life of the condemned before the massacre perpetrated on October 2, 1992 by the police force following a riot.
The film opens with a settling of scores by Ebony, a prisoner in charge of the kitchens. While the director quickly arrives on the spot, Ebony doesn't let go of the reins of the situation. He's understood: in Carandiru, the voices of management and prisoners rise in a choir and vibrate in diapason, in order to maintain a balance and precarious order, essential for the place to function well. The armed sentinels carrying out their rounds along the ramparts, always discrete, only represent only the last resort in case of outbursts.
What's immediately striking about Babenco's film is the details used to account for the tacit rules laid down in this place of imprisonment. Killers, robbers and rapists seem to cohabit by enacting their own rules, often transpositions of the law of the street, with its codes, duties, rights and punishments.
Between the walls of the various wards, one witnesses the everyday life of a city totally apart, with its neighborhoods, trades, residences. No cell is closed: the impression is visiting studios of disconcerting filth in bad neighborhoods. Each one comes and goes as he pleases, adapting and decorates his cell to fit his taste. One watches TV, another cooks, while one hangs his laundry on the bars. Difficult to be convinced that it's about a prison. The colors and lighting serve this hyper-realist atmosphere. Inspired by the lighting of the prison, Walter Carvalho, director of photography, mixes the colors, making hot and cold lights cohabit. The...