Children’s Journeys: Central Do Brasil, Viva Cuba and Cochochi

  • Deborah Martin
Part of the Global Cinema book series (GLOBALCINE)


Mobile children, often traversing the national territory, sometimes on shorter journeys, are a recurrent image in Latin American cinema. This chapter examines the most commercially successful of Latin American child-films, the Brazilian road movie Central Station (Salles, Brazil), which contrasts a corrupt, adult-aligned urban modernity with an uncontaminated rural cultural infancy, a binary embodied by travel companions Dora and Josué. Central Station offers the viewer the very conventional pleasures associated with Western cinematic codes of both road movie and child-film; it invites and constructs a dominant, nostalgic, and adult viewing subjectivity. Central Station and ¡Viva Cuba! (Cremata 2005) both depict journeys in search of the father, and both imply a simultaneous look to the (spectator’s) past, memory and tradition, and to the future, presenting the child as a spontaneous, authentic being, close to nature and cultural traditions. ¡Viva Cuba! understands the child romantically in this way, as closer to generations of past Cubans, and to ‘authentic’ or unmediated parts of Cuba, such as the never-before-filmed Punta de Maisí, the children’s ultimate destination. The final film discussed in this chapter, Israel Cárdenas and Laura Amelia Guzmán’s Cochochi (2007), is the tale of a journey undertaken by two Rarámuri brothers to deliver a package of tablets to a sick relative on the other side of the valley. Cochochi, which has echoes of Marcela Fernández Violante’s En el país de los piés ligeros/ Niño rarámuri (1983), like the other films discussed, uses the trope of childhood journeying to represent rites of passage. However, in its choice of a small (but all-encompassing) journey, it avoids the totalising sweep of the journeys across the nation undertaken in the films previously mentioned. Instead, it deconstructs the binaries that inform journey narratives (home/road, origin/destination), and avoids making the landscape a pleasurable object of mobile vision, instead emphasising the experiential aspects of childhood mobility and its dangers and pleasures.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah Martin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American StudiesUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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