Cinergía Movie File:
The Burning Season
Directed by John Frankenheimer, 1994
The Burning Season
Created by Diana Bernal, Janice Brack, Brandy Navurskis, Laura Riggins, and Kristin Sherwood
Scroll down or Click on any section to jump ahead:
Section 1: Pre-screening
Section 2: Film Comprehension and Criticism
Section 3: Media analysis
Section 1: Pre-screening
In English. This website gives general information about rain forests and offers answers to frequently asked questions about what is happening in the Amazon today. It also gives information about Chico Mendes’ efforts to save the rain forests of Brazil. Visitors of this page can view maps of the reservation areas, read information on the forest fires and make a contribution to the efforts that Chico started. This site also provides a list of various books and videos that you can buy to learn more about the Amazon rain forests.
In English. This website gives readers a general background on the history of Brazil. It offers information about the different people, the geography and the economy of Brazil and it discusses the problems with the exploitation of the Amazon’s resources. It also discusses some of the environmental issues that Brazil faces regarding the rain forests.
In English and Spanish.
This website gives a description of what the Amazon is like and what
resources it has to offer. It also gives a list of some of the different animal species
that live in the Amazon and it describes the ecosystems and diverse cultures
that live in the area. Also, it
describes exactly what areas of South America the rain forests cover and what
types of reserves the people have been granted because of the destruction.
World Conservation Monitoring Centre
In English. This website provides a list of many different countries that have rain forests and it gives a description of each country. It provides information about which forests are now reserves and it gives a map of each region.
Quien era Chico Mendes.
La Tierra Sin Mal.
In Spanish. This website provides a biography of Chico Mendes’ life. It provides information about where he was born, where he grew up and it gives a description of what he fought for. It discusses some of his successes and failures in fighting for the rain forests. It also tells how he died and explains the effect that he had on the world and what efforts are still being made today to save the rainforests.
los ángeles lloran.
In Spanish. These are the lyrics to a song by Maná, a band from Guadalajara, Mexico, about Chico Mendez. It describes what he did during his life and it gives an idea of the efforts he made and the struggles he fought in order to save the rain forests.
This website gives a good insight into the director of The
Burning Season, John Frankenheimer. It
is an interview with him where he discusses the types of films that he likes to
make. He also discusses his beliefs
on how to film movies, and how Hollywood abuses history.
Brasil: y los asesinos de Chico Mendes
This website gives information about the people involved in the murder of
Chico Mendes. It tells about their
escape from prison and it gives information on the response of the Brazilian
people to the lack of interest in recapturing his assassins.
In English. This website gives an accurate description of who the rubber tappers are and what their purpose is. It tells how they tap the trees for rubber without endangering the trees. It goes on to discuss the problems they have making a living due to the deforestation of the Amazons.
In Spanish. This website discusses an organization that is against the governments destruction of the Amazon for economic progress. It discusses ways to conserve the land and emphasizes that it should be used for and owned by the indigenous people of Brazil.
Why are the rainforests so important to the world?
What is one factor that makes Brazil a unique part of the world?
Why should we be concerned with protecting the environment?
Why have so many places in the Amazon been turned into reserves?
5. Is Brazil the only country that has rain forests? If not, name other countries that also have rain forests.
What was Chico Mendes fighting for and why?
Why is Chico Mendes considered a hero of the planet, not just a hero of
Does the song “Cuando los ángeles lloran”
represent the true story of Chico Mendes and does it do a good job of
explaining what happened to him?
What type of camera does John Frankenheimer like to use when he is
9. When did the assassins of Chico Mendes escape from prison? Is the government trying to find them?
In the last fifteen years, how much of the forests have been destroyed in
11. What is the process the seringueiros (rubber tappers) use for tapping rubber from a tree?
should the Brazilian government be doing to conserve the land in the Amazon rain
2: Film Comprehension and Criticism
Who are the most significant characters?
What is the setting (location, time period, etc.)?
Explain the life and culture of a rubber tapper?
How does Chico Mendes become educated?
How does Chico view his father? What event
causes him to change his opinion of his father?
Why does Chico protest?
Why and how does he use non-violent means of
What is an empate?
8. How do the banks, government, and cattle ranchers justify tearing down the trees?
What message is director John Frankenheimer
trying to convey?
From whose perspective is the movie told?
What is the theme?
What is the symbolism of fire? Are there any
other images that could be viewed as metaphors?
How does Chico develop throughout the movie?
Is he a static (same way throughout) or dynamic (changing or changed)
Who murdered Chico Mendes?
Explain the different interests of the rubber
tappers, the cattle ranchers and the businessmen. How does each group treat the Amazons?
you can find facts about Chico Mendes (his struggles, accomplishments, etc.),
How did the film help you understand the life of a rubber tapper?
Did it help you understand the problems they face?
What did you learn specifically about the life and death of Chico Mendes?
How was he portrayed?
Who is the intended audience?
How big was the gap between the rich and poor people who lived in Brazil
at that time? How many people were
How difficult was it to start a union in that area of Brazil? About how many people in the past had been murdered for
participating in movements?
7. What was the name of the road being paved, and who was responsible for funding it?
Why do you think some names in the movie were changed?
(Who does Regina represent? Whose
real names are used and whose names are changed?)
Does the movie stress other people who helped Chico?
Does it explain why and how these people helped him?
Where and how was the information gathered in order to make this movie?
3: Media analysis
This still represents
Chico’s achievement towards saving the Amazon rain forest in Brazil.
This particular scene takes place when Chico is in Miami, Florida where
the Inter American Development Bank is located.
Chico was brought to Miami to further express the importance of
protecting the rain forest. In this
scene, the business man who has been trying to stop the progress of Chcio Mendes
and his union watches Chico’s broadcast on television.
The key to the shot is the fame in frame and the comment on the use of
the edit to communicate social struggle, which is a reflection of the film, The
Burning Season. The man
watching Chico represents an ominous end for Chico and foreshadows his death.
scene is symbolic because it shows the relationship between the younger boy,
Yenesio and Chico Mendes. Moments
earlier, Yenesio had been kicked by a horse and they are at the Clinica Sao
Sebastia. In the meantime, Chico
tries to relate his own bad experiences with Yenesio. Chico sees a younger version of himself in Yenesio.
One can see this because of the emphasis in Chico’s eyes and the caring
and fatherly position of Chico. Finally,
this scene is most important because it starts the special bond that Chico and
Yenesio have. After this scene
Yenesio wonders if Darli Alvez is the true model he wants to follow. The blood
on Chico’s shirt is a symbol of future violence and his own death.
It is important to look at the positions of each figure.
The angle of the camera has their bodies apart and their heads together,
which symbolizes that Chico is a thoughtful man, whereas his enemy Darli Alvez
is a man of base physicality. It is
also important to note that Chico looks directly at Yenesio while the boy
glances away, still unsure of whether to trust him.
this still the cattle ranchers are ready to destroy the Amazon rain forest.
Chico and the members of the Rural Workers Union have united together to
support the rain forest. The still
is significant because it shows the commitment and will power of all the rubber
tapers. This is the second
confrontation with the cattle ranchers. The
linking of arms represents the unity and devotion the rubber tapers have for
their cause. The first still
represents strength and power because Chico is speaking and they are all looking
at the cattle ranchers. The second
still represents less confidence; they are not protesting and the man on the
right is looking at Chico as if he were looking for guidance.
Perhaps he feels helpless because the cattle ranchers have weapons to
fight with while the rubber tapers are armless.
three men are facing the same direction signifying solidarity.
This still features Wilson Pinheiro, Chico Mendes and a third rubber
taper. They were demanding that the cattle ranchers leave so that they can claim
their own land. It is the start of
the fight of the rain forest against the cattle ranchers.
This was Chico’s first confrontation to stand up for what he believed
in. This scene is also significant because it starts the
friendship between Wilson and Chico. The
sweat on their clothes represents their determination and the trees in the
background remind the viewer of their commitment to nature and to their way of
life. The shadows from the trees
can be seen as more solidarity form nature.
Media Literacy Questions:
Whose point of view was not heard in the film?
What were some of the values that were encouraged in the film? What did
the film make you believe or feel passionate about?
What did the creators of the film have to say about the role of the
Amazons? Did the creators of the film make the Amazons seem helpless or very
4) What was the purpose of the burning season? Was it more likely to persuade or inform its viewers?
How does the film influence the attitudes of its viewers?
How was the use of fire important to the film?
Who is the intended audience for the film?
What was the intended purpose of using Cashiru as the Amazon hunter? Did
the image hold a deep significance in the film?
What was the significance of the guns and the bullets in the film? What
do guns symbolize and how do they relate to masculinity?
was the use of the old women expressed in the film? What was her significance to
this film be classified as a Hollywood film? What aspects make this film
Hollywood or not?
the fact that this film has a specific good character (Chico Mendes) and a bad
character (Darli Alvez) a good thing? In what ways could it be bad that Chico is
represented as being “perfect” and that the conflict is between good and
Was Chico Mendes represented accurately? Does history correlate with what
was shown in the film?
What was the significance of the end of the film?
does the tree hugging that occurs throughout the film suggest? Also, what does
the representation of non-violence signify to the viewers?
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Created on 4/10/01
Last updated on 09/26/2007