Olga Benario Prestes: The Cinematic Martyrdom of a Revolutionary Jewish Woman and the Reconstruction of National Identity in Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva’s Brazil

Tzvi Tal


The popular success of the film Olga (Jayme Monjardin, Globo, Brazil, 2004) and the conflicting interpretations of the historical figure of Olga Benário Prestes, the Communist activist of German-Jewish background, that it inspired, indicate its relevance in current formation of Brazilian identity. This article proposes an allegoric reading of the cinematic text. The stripping of Olga's revolutionary activism of any ideological or political significance and by putting her through a process of Christian redemption reinforces traditional gender relations. Her transformation from revolutionary activist to wife, mother, and martyr represents the accommodation of Brazilian identity to bankrupted expectations as Luiz da Silva’s first presidency (2002-2006) failed to implement a radical alternative to the prevailing neoliberal system.

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