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A Very Crazy Asylum

A Very Crazy Asylum

A Very Crazy Asylum

1970 / 79min / DCP

DIRECTOR: NELSON PEREIRA DOS SANTOS

Considered by many Brazil’s greatest writer, Machado de Assis wrote his novel The Alienist (an alternative English-language title for the film, or Azyllo Muito Louco) when “positivist” theories about the need for science to organize society were at their height among the Brazilian intelligentsia. A psychiatrist, Bacarmarte, arrives in a small coastal town to continue his research on a method to determine who is insane and would require institutionalization. Eventually, the citizenry revolts, but the leaders of the uprising create an alliance with Bacamarte and start interning those government and church leaders who earlier had interned them. A wry and unsettling study of knowledge and power, worthy of Foucault.