It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
In Brazil, the word quilombo refers to a community of free men, and it carries with it an echo of the original Quilombo dos Palmares, or Palm Nation, which was founded in the early 17th century by runaway slaves in the forests of northeastern Brazil. No doubt by now the legend of Palmares has been liberally rewritten in fantasy and myth - it is presented in this movie as a sort of democratic utopia - but it remains an important symbol in the history of a nation that claims to be color-blind.
"Quilombo" is Carlos Diegues's new film about the century-long rise and fall of Palmares, but it is not simply a historical epic.
Diegues, like many South American storytellers, moves easily between dream and reality, between fact and myth. Who can forget the snow that suddenly fell while "White Christmas" played in Diegues's "Bye Bye Brazil"? In "Quilombo," he combines matter-of-fact battle scenes with a world that looks inspired by some of the sword-and-sorcery movies.
The film starts with the revolt of some slaves, who kill their Portuguese masters and flee to an isolated corner of the nation, which they place under their control. Other escaped slaves and various disenfranchised and disenchanted whites join them, and under the leadership of a charismatic leader named Ganga Zumba, they begin to create their own society.