Our Indians | Chicago Reader

Our Indians

Sylvio Back's 1995 Brazilian documentary compiles clips from hundreds of films to show how the country's Indians have been perceived by white visitors and settlers. Not surprisingly, the clips reveal more about the people behind the camera than about those in front of it: Indians are depicted either as noble savages or as primitives to be “civilized” and assimilated. Back punctures Brazil's fond image of itself as a paradise of ethnicities with shots of decimated tribes and impassioned or ironic poetry about dignity and innocence. The jumble of information can be maddening, but that may be his point: outsiders' attitudes toward these cultures have been contradictory to the point of incoherence.

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