Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I am teaching a course at Miami that includes a number of readings on globalization, but I am always searching for better ways to reach students. I think I have found an unusual one with the film, How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman.
In the 16th century the Portuguese and the French were fighting over control of Brazil. The indigenous tribes were caught in the middle of this struggle. Different tribes allied to different forces. The Frenchman is captured by the Portuguese and is then taken prisoner by the Tupinambas who favor the French. The Tupinambas are the mortal enemies of the Tupiniquins, allies of the Portuguese.
The Tupinambas don't believe the Frenchman is French. They decide to keep him for 8 months--and give him a wife--when they will eat him. The Frenchman tries to adapt to Tupinamba ways which involves having his body shaved and going naked. (Apparently the film was banned for a while in Brazil for "excessive" though faithful nudity.) The film at times has an anthropological feel about it.
Having helped the Tupinambas vanquish the Tupiniquins, the Frenchman is eaten. His neck is promised to his wife and she is seen contentedly chewing away. Is this a sign of counter-globalization insurgency?
Unfortunately not as the film closes with a quote saying that the Tupinambas were exterminated and their bodies laid out on the beach shortly after eating their little Frenchman.
I hadn't realized until I watched it that the film was made in 1971. Given that hardly anyone is wearing clothes and most of the action takes place on the beach, one isn't aware of modern historical references, only those situated in the story.
For a different take on globalization this is an excellent tale by which to understand it. I stumbled on this film by accident. The Richter Library at Miami has a great and extensive film collection and there buried within it was How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman. I'm going back to look for more....