The discovery of a body in the river
The discovery of a body in the river
What is presented here are the different stages through which passed one of the most important sequences of O Sangue, that of the discovery of a body in the river in the presence of Vicente and Clara. On the one hand, we have the writing of the scene in the screenplay, then the storyboard drawings of the key moments of the scene designed by Rita Lopes Alves. We also have the direction notes for the scene attached to the script and, finally, three stills of the final execution of those same moments in the film.
What appears in the screenplay as scene 19 corresponds with several scenes in the film: Vicente and Clara's entry into the park; the encounter with Zeca (who in the screenplay is the character of the drummer); the dead body being picked up from the river by the boatman; and finally, the moment of the erotic fight between Vicente and Clara by the river that the montage intersected with the scene of the uncle taking Nino from his house, asleep. At the moment of collecting the body, the passage from the written to the filmed seems to have suffered some compression. In the screenplay, the initial idea was that through people's voices, but also through Clara, we would learn that the corpse floating in the river was that of a widowed music teacher who was drinking.
In addition, the body would lose itself in the river's current, forming a "beautiful funeral procession" with the people accompanying it. In the film, the option turned out to be different: the body is collected by a boatman, maintaining this idea of a procession or a group of people who attend this unusual event. However, any information regarding the identity of the deceased is denied. In this sense, it is a compression that does not only want to save the narrative for reasons of time, but rather seeks to construct a space of ambiguity. When Vicente puts the white scarf on Clara's shoulders, she runs away scared saying "it's his". Well, we never know exactly who "he" is.
Another fundamental element for the construction of this scene were the four drawings by Rita Lopes Alves: the first with people seeing the corpse floating in the river; the second in which Vicente places the white scarf on Clara's shoulders; and the last two detailing the position of Vicente and Clara's bodies in relation to the river during the amorous fight, at the end of the sequence. By placing the film plans and these drawings side by side, we detect differences, while maintaining their general meaning. In view of the first drawing, because the action is replaced by the collection of the body by a boatman, the point of view is changed. Thus, in the film, we have a shot of people witnessing the event facing the camera and against the light, no longer a shot from the back of Vicente and Clara, as shown in the drawing.
The second drawing in which Vicente puts the scarf on Clara is the one that, although not maintaining the same framing and proximity to the characters, is best executed in accordance with the plan for the shot. On the other hand, the drawings of Clara and Vicente's love struggle take place only in one shot of the film, since it is in the same shot that their position changes a little, with Clara managing to turn Vicente to herself. The point of view does not vary either: contrary to what is seen in the larger drawing, the river is always beyond the characters and not on this side of them.
Finally, note the mise en scène notes, which highlight Pedro Costa's intention to “film the exteriors as if they were a studio” and to “allow field entrances and exits”, something that happens with Clara at the beginning and end of the sequence. Costa indicates that the direction of the scarf scene must “cause an explosion”. This explosion presumably concerns the moment when Clara, recognising the scarf that she has around her shoulders, runs away from the party. Finally, Pedro Costa makes it clear that the amorous fight must take place on the sand, and that it must be lit "like a battlefield", that Clara must come out as the "winner" and that the characters' movements must coincide with the flow of the river. All these are examples of indications of direction that, without being rigorously concretized in the film, contributed to the dramatic-erotic tone of that scene.