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House of Sand (Widescreen)
House of Sand
Actors: Fernanda Montenegro, Fernanda Torres, Ruy Guerra, Seu Jorge, Stênio Garcia
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
R     2006     1hr 55min

Filmed entirely on the magnificent, sandy coast of northern Brazil, Áurea's saga begins in 1910, in Maranhão, where her fanatical husband has relocated his family to start a farm. Desperate and pregnant, Áurea (Fernanda To...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Fernanda Montenegro, Fernanda Torres, Ruy Guerra, Seu Jorge, Stênio Garcia
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Family Life, Military & War
Studio: Sony Pictures
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 12/12/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 55min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: Portuguese
Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese

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Movie Reviews

Staggeringly Beautiful Cinematic Epic
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 12/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"CASA DE AREIA ('HOUSE OF SAND) is a masterpiece of filmmaking from Brazil. Written by Elena Soarez and Luis Carlos Barreto the story seems more a magical metaphor than a tale of real life - until the film concludes and the immediacy and universality of the messages haunt the viewer's mind for hours. It is a film directed by Andrucha Waddington with a cast of superb actors but the focus of the film, the films central character, is the bleak isolation of the sweeping desert of Northern Brazil.

The film opens in 1910 with a caravan of wind swept characters appearing in the distance of the dunes of the desert, a group of wayfarers apparently escaping the poverty of the bog city to find a home of their own, land that can be called something that belongs to them. They are led by Vasco de Sá (Ruy Guerra) and his wife Áurea (Fernanda Torres) and her mother Dona Maria (Fernanda Montenegro), both of whom plead with Vasco to let them return to the poverty of the city instead of being forced to attempt to exist in the sands of the windy desert. Vasco is determined, builds a house, forces the women to live there and the others to pitch tents to exist. Áurea becomes pregnant, Vasco is confronted by the real owners of the land led by Massu (Seu Jorge), and must trade his possessions to remain in his 'home', a home which crashes around him leaving Vasco dead and Áurea and Dona Maria to fend for themselves. The others desert the two women and the women find their only help in Massu.

Time passes slowly (to 1919) and the changing sands begin to bury the house. Áurea, now a mother of a daughter Maria (Camilla Facundes), finds a telescope and sets out to see if she can find its owner and a way out of the desert. She encounters a group of scientists photographing the solar eclipse, a group protected by Luiz (Enrique Díaz) who bonds with Áurea, has a night affair with her, and then promises to take Áurea, her old mother Dona Maria, and her young daughter Maria to the city. Áurea sets out for her house only to find it now covered with a dune, her mother dead and her daughter Maria traumatized: the chance for escape is gone.

We move to 1942 and daughter Maria is now a woman (played by Fernanda Montenegro) who has bonded with Massu (now played by Luiz Melodia) and her sensual daughter Maria (played by Fernanda Torres) are still waiting for the return of Luiz. The older Luiz (Stênio Garcia) returns and Maria seduces him, even though Luiz knows she is his old lover's daughter. He returns to the house, meets the 'Áurea/Maria' he loved and ultimately agrees to take the younger Maria to the city: the older Maria elects to stay with Massu. Again time leaps to 1970 and the younger Maria in hippie outfit drives out to see her mother (both Marias are now played by Fernanda Montenegro) and the reunion of hopes and dreams of over 60 years are realized in a manner that brings the film to a haunting conclusion.

The cast is extraordinarily fine, blending into the movement of nature and symbolizing the elements of love, longing, loneliness, destiny, and survival. The repeated use of the two major actresses is a stroke of genius: we are caught up in the intuitive understanding of all the manifestations of these two women over time as they change roles not only as actresses but also as blending characters.

In a fine touch of genius, the films credits are rolled as Brazilian pianist Nelson Friere plays the Chopin 'Raindrop Prelude'. It is a moving ending to a magnificent film. Highly recommended. In Portuguese with English subtitles. Grady Harp, December 06
Soooo close to being an "Epic"
B. Merritt | WWW.FILMREVIEWSTEW.COM, Pacific Grove, California | 01/05/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Epic is often something we attribute to lengthy films or ones that have a cast of nearly a hundred or more. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962) quickly comes to mind. It had an all-star cast and a run time of over 220 minutes. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965) is another, clocking in at just over 190 minutes. Then there's the more modern "epics" such as GLADIATOR (2000) that comes in at 171 minutes.

But run times are only a portion of what makes an epic an epic. THE HOUSE OF SAND runs well under two hours (115 minutes), but spans multiple generations, covering over 60 years. And although The House of Sand teeters on the verge epic-ness, it misses the mark ...but only by a hair.

Visually breathtaking, The House of Sand focuses on the lives of three generations of women. The first generation is forced into a little known desert area of Brazil where a man named Vasco (Ruy Guerra) leads a ragtag group of settlers on a quest for land to call their own. With him comes his wife Aurea (Fernanda Torres), a young woman of an arranged marriage. Also with him is Aurea's mother, Maria (Fernanda Montenegro). The group of settlers quickly learn the inhospitable nature of the area and all of them flee, except for Vasco, Aurea, and Maria. But Vasco soon dies in an accident, leaving the mother/daughter team to fend for themselves. Luckily, there's a group of former slaves eking out an existence nearby. Massu (Seu Jorge) is one of these tough ex-slaves, and he takes a liking to Aurea (as do several other men who live or happen upon this sandy area).

As time passes, Maria falls in love with the dunes and the simplicity of the area. But Aurea begs to leave. She wants for the excitement of a city with people her own age. Several options for freeing herself from the boredom of the sand appear and just as quickly evaporate, stranding her year after year in the desolation. One time, however, a young officer in the Brazilian Army visits the area with scientists who are marking an eclipse of the sun, and a quick one-night-stand results in a pregnancy. The officer leaves and Aurea is once again stuck in this place. Her daughter (Maria) grows and looks exactly like Aurea. And as Aurea ages, she has a striking resemblance to her mother, Maria. Roles get reversed after Aurea's mother's death in a sand slide. Aurea must now be the responsible mother to her daughter Maria. But Maria's life in this place is adding up to zero. Sound familiar?

The circular pattern of family has been done before, but never on par with this. The sweeping vistas, quiet yet constantly shifting sands, and the pressing of dunes on everything (including the women's relationships) make this film a very good story. But not a great one.

The short run time forces two quick decade leaps that are, to say the least, jarring and confusing. Also, the excellent cinematography lingered just a bit too long on occasion whenever sweeping scenery presented itself ("Yeah, that's beautiful ...still beautiful ...yep, still great it still on the screen?")

This is one of director Andrucha Waddington's first feature length films and one can't help but be impressed by his able hands on the helm. It is a magnificent piece of cinema that needed just a few touch-ups in order to be "Epic.""
Disorientating relentless passage of time is nothing but mov
R. M. Williams | tucson, arizona USA | 07/22/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"it is a stark movie, filmed in a starkly beautiful but desolate land, at the intersection of sand and sea in Brazil.
I constantly asked myself how can anyone survive let alone raise children in such a land. There is apparently nothing but sand and saltwater, crabs and a few coconuts. Their goats and small gardens as well as the sea are the only sources of food, even salt has to be brought in. The sand is everywhere, eventually moving and completely recreating the landscapes, it swallows the houses and shapes the consciousness of those living there.

It is the story of 3 women, grandmother, mother and daughter. It uses an odd technique of jumping ahead decades without any clues and swapping the actresses, the mother is played by the actress who was the grandmother and daughter by the actress who was daughter. I missed this the first time and had to rewind and see that watching (subtitled, in Brazilian Portuguese) the names is crucial, not the faces.

The two, grandmother and mother (who is just pregnant) arrive with a stark raving mad husband in this cruel and unforgiving land. He soon dies and leaves the two women to survive or die, the land doesn't care.
It is a bit disorientating, which is apparently the author's design, landmarks are wiped out by the moving sand. The mother wants desperately to return and tries to walk out, to bargain a ride out, to wait for an expedition that was working on the 1919 solar eclipse and Einstein's theory. It is a story of consequences, situation A leads to situation B, but both time and this disconcerting disorientation make the transition anything but straightforward.

This deliberate disorientation is increased by almost meaningless or even anti-meaning events, why after decades does the mother have this passionate moment. Why does the daughter flip out when she sees it.
I don't think that the daughter says a word until the last few minutes as a middle aged woman and a monologue with her now very elderly mom.
in a way it all seems rather pointless and existentialist like "No Exit" or "Waiting for Godot", life is just life, live it or don't, the sand/universe doesn't care

The major situations are: mother's passion leads to daughter's promiscuity, nothingness of the environment leads to nothing to do and nothing inside the daughter, an overwhelming desire to leave makes the acknowledgment that this is home and a place to cherish and grow old in unrecognized. The curious point of the movie is to see how aging changes each woman so she becomes more like her mother, with the mother eventually deciding to stay when given an opportunity to leave presents itself, which the daughter takes.

So it is a movie about time, about growing old, about maturity with the constant background of the shifting and unstoppable sand.
It destroys house, destroys lives, disorientates the viewer yet moves so slowly that you have to pay attention to see the changes.
Like life which reflects the passage of time, most of the real work is done unseen, slowly but inexorably.

The lessons of the movie are as much achieved by the landscape as by the characters and plot, actually more so, for there is little dialog.
i think that the movie will appeal to some people and bore many, much like sitting and watching a sand dune would be.
but it is worthwhile watching, even if in fast forward, if only for the scenery. i had no idea places like this even existed.

anyhow. use the pause key, look carefully at the scenes and pay attention to the names of the women, not the faces, for the passage of time is marked only by the names, not the faces or the clothes."
Hauntingly beautiful. Perfect and satisfying in every sense.
intheknow | Utah | 01/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you like fast action movies, this one is not for you.
But this movie has the most gorgeous photography and
enough surprises to keep you entertained. Not too much
dialog, so it's easy to follow the sub-titles."