An engineer is on trial for the murder of a teen boy. He offers a strange explanation for the boys’ disappearance. He could control the wind. The Boy and the Wind (O Menino e o Vento) was one of the earliest films to address homosexuality in Brazil. The first half is a stylish, homoerotic noir. The second half is a vague and frustrating allegory.
Let’s take a closer look at these magical gays in this spoiler filled recap.
A Tall Tale
Scene One: A Hotel
TOWNSFOLK: Boo! You killed the Boy!
ENGINEER (Age 25): He’s not dead.
GAY COUSIN: They think you were lovers. That’s legal here but the court will use it against you.
ENGINEER: We were just friends.
FEMME FATALE: Well you wouldn’t sleep with me. That’s pretty suspicious.
ENGINEER: This town used to be windy. What happened?
FEMME FATALE: There’s been no wind since the Boy disappeared.
Scene Two: The Courthouse
WITNESS: The Engineer and the Boy were always together. On the day of the storm, I saw them on the hill. The Boy was naked. The next day all I found was his shirt.
JUDGE: Order in the court! Have you anything to say in your defense?
ENGINEER: I came to this town to study the wind. That’s not a euphemism.
Scene Three: Flashback
BOY (Age 17): I like the wind too.
(He whistles. The wind stops and starts, as if on his command.)
ENGINEER: I’ll ignore your obvious superpowers. I’m leaving town to see my fiancée. Who is a woman. I sleep with women.
BOY: I don’t judge. Let’s have a big wind to send you off.
(They climb a hill. A big wind starts. The boy removes his clothes.)
BOY: I’m leaving with this one.
(He hugs the Engineer then runs off into the horizon.)
Scene Four: The Courthouse
ENGINEER: I know he’s alive. For the wind represents freedom, and passion, and being true to yourself and… a lot of other things. I don’t really know where I’m going with this.
JUDGE: Well, there’s no body and no substantial evidence. How do we end this film?
(A big gay wind blows through the town. It fills the courthouse, chasing the people away. Soon only the Engineer is left. He picks up the boy’s abandoned shirt and stares at it.)
Colors of the Wind
The minorities have to protect themselves.The Gay Cousin in The Boy and the Wind
Director and Co-Writer Carlos Hugo Christensen adapted The Boy and the Wind from a short story by Anibal Machado. Christensen began his career in Argentina but relocated to Brazil in the 1950’s. He filmed on location in Visconde do Rio Branco and cast locals as extras in the crowd scenes. A grounded airplane was used for many of the wind effects.
Actors Ênio Gonçalves and Luiz Fernando Ianelli find the ambiguity between friendship and desire. Their relationship only gets about 20 minutes of screen time but their longing looks speak volumes. The boy’s named José but the town calls him “Bent Jack” because he lives near the bent (grassland) on the hill. When the Engineer shares his name is also José the boy asks “Do they call you Straight Jack?” No comment.
The boy’s gay Cousin is interesting. A rebel in private and a conformist in public. He joins the mob in throwing rocks at the Engineer but seeks him out after. He believes the Engineer is innocent and offers to blackmail a key witness. But he wants sexual favors in return. The Engineer turns him down. When he next appears he’s giving testimony against the Engineer alongside the rest of his family.
What to make of that ending? Brazil was run by a military dictatorship. Same sex activity was legal but homosexuals were ostracized. The wind defies all laws. It’s a force of nature that can’t be controlled. Christensen allows the Cousin to speak openly of gay rights while the Engineer speaks in metaphors. The contradictions remain today. Brazil has legalized many LGBT protections. But violence against LGBT people is at a record high. President Bolsonaro boasts openly of his homophobia. But Presidents come and go. The wind remains eternal.