[UPDATE, September 25, 2007: We Actually Watch Elite de Tropa]
Is Tropa de Elite — “the most heavily pirated film in history,” according to an IstoÉ magazine cover story this week — a love letter and cinematic recruiting poster for the “trooper elite,” or a searing indictment of “police who kill”?
In the YouTube comments threads on leaked versions of the film, the recruiting-poster attitude seems to prevail. “Check out our supercops! Dude, imagine if BOPE and São Paulo’s ROTA joined forces?”On ROTA, however, and works of fiction passed off as nonfiction, see also
Still, it was interesting to see Rio troopers from line battalions commenting to IstoÉ that they found the film’s portrayal of BOPE “incorruptibility” self-serving.
The two principal authors of the book on which the film is based are former BOPE officers, and the film is essentially fictionalized autobiography — autohagiography, some sources are saying.
Rodrigo Pimentel — sort of a real-life version of Kevin Spacey’s celebrity “infotainment consultant” cop in L.A. Confidential — is a particularly interesting case. Part of his official biography is that his complaints — as a focal point of the 1998 documentary “News of a Private War,” about BOPE’s war on drugs in the favelas of Rio — about the futility of the strategy used led to threats against his life and his leaving the force.
The image presented of BOPE here — “they murder and torture, but they are incorruptible” — may represent a sort of infotainment negotiation at a poker table on which rests a loaded .45.
In this training sequence, for example, the action focuses on Capt. Nascimento’s determination to identify and disqualify a corrupt candidate.
In the first scene, he tells him, “You think I don’t know you are taking payoffs from the jogo do bicho? You are going to be the first to quit!”
The sequence ends with the Capt. setting the corrupt candidate up to fail and then siccing his aides on the man.
The familiar “jackboot to the brisket,” “kick them when they are down” tactics ensue.
We saw this technique in use ourselves during the International Women’s Day march on the Av. Paulista earlier this year by the São Paulo tropa de choque. After the troopers had all removed their crachás (name tags) to avoid identification by the assembled global press.
A truculent beatdown on a showcase avenue — the Avenue of the Americas of São Paulo! — before the massed cameras of the international news media.
The emblematic TV moment, we thought, was when the shock troop fired flash grenades at the ankles of two newsstand proprietors who were simply trying to close their shutters to protect the display windows of one of those brand-new deluxe newsstands — lovely things, we love to browse magazines there — by the Trianon-MASP subway station.
Apparently, sometimes you have to destroy local businesses in order to save the world from vast communist conspiracies.
If the local chamber of commerce was not mad as hell over this astonishingly bad publicity for the metropolitan brand, perhaps local business needs to elect new representatives to the chamber.
Because it was truly a Boris Casoy vergonha, I thought.
Reporters in the audience at the Oscar preview screening there in Rio reported loud applause at such moments, and some bate-boca among audience members over moments of cheerleading for “jackboot to the brisket” ultraviolence.
My subtitles here are hasty guesstimates and therefore of no commercial value. Subtitling is hard work. This is just a blog.