Birth of the project in Paris.
Development of the project in Rio de Janeiro.
Shooting in Mangaratiba-RJ.
Shooting period in Rio de Janeiro.
Start of editing.
End of editing.
Avant-première in Capitólio.
When Mário Peixoto returned from Europe in October 1929, he brought the draft he had made about the feeling he had when he first looked at the “Vu” magazine cover. His desire to make a film, already latent in him since the making of “Barro Humano“, got keener and led him to produce one. In Rio de Janeiro, he frequented again the Puppet Theater and the cinematographic milieu which Adhemar Gonzaga and Pedro Lima were associated with. He was probably present at the filming of “Lábios Sem Beijos” and “Saudade”. Backed up by his friends of the Puppet Theater, Mário Peixoto suggested writing a script from that draft – and so he did in just one morning. At first, they were reluctant to accept the script of “Limite”, but Brutus Pedreira‘s support was decisive, because after all, Mário himself was supposed to finance the film.
We do not know precisely how and when the steps were taken, but they certainly happened between October 1929, when Mário Peixoto returned from Europe, and May 1930, when they began filming it. Faithful to his purpose of becoming an actor, Mário did not intend to direct the film; so, he invited Adhemar Gonzaga and Humberto Mauro to be the directors, but they refused to because the script did not match the paradigm of the Brazilian cinematography, which they had been trying to engraft, and because of practical reasons. Gonzaga had been putting Cinedia (a filmmaking company) into operation and filming “Saudade” while Humberto Mauro had just started the second edition of “Lábios Sem Beijos”. Having received two refusals (and maybe still encouraged by Brutus Pedreira), Mário took up the challenge to direct “Limite”.
Adhemar Gonzaga did not accept to direct “Limite”, but he helped Mário along a lot nevertheless; he was a great helpmate indeed. He appointed Edgar Brasil to be the photographer (Rui Costa who was studying fine arts at that time, came along with him) and asked Pedro Lima to show Mário the actress photo album of Cinedia filmmaking company (or, who knows, still of Cinearte Studios), so that he could pick out one of them. And so he chose Yolanda Bernardi, who would play the role of Taciana Rei, the woman 2.
The other actress (woman 1) was Alzira Alves, who adopted the name Olga Breno. She worked in the candy store inside Casa Globo, and was spared by Jorge Bhering de Mattos, an open-handed shopkeeper married to Cornélia Luíza, Mário Peixoto’s cousin german and one of the guardian angels of “Limite”. Jorge Bhering not only continued paying Alzira’s salary, but also lent the spotlights, which lit up the façade of the Globo factory, to be used in the filming. Edgar Brasil suggested that Mario made the film with the new panchromatic movie film. According to what Mário said, he bought in instalments a hand-held Kimano camera, with a 30-meter bar, probably suggested by Edgar Brasil because, after having read the script of “Limite”, he would have realized that they would need a small and easy-to-use hand-operated camera so that they could accomplish the takes, move quickly and smoothly and position themselves in hard to get places.
Adhemar Gonzaga managed to borrow a camera from Phebo, the Ernemann, with which they produced Humberto Mauro’s first films.
All the staff were put up at Santa Justina farm, in Mangaratiba – Victor de Souza Breves’ property. He was Carmen’s brother and Mário’s uncle. He generously gave board, lodging and transport to all of them – a Ford and a small truck, which came in very useful during the filming. He also provided them with a sailboat, the Santa Maria, to be used in the filming at sea. He still put all the facilities at Mário Peixoto’s service so that Edgar Brasil could create all the necessary conditions to make the camera movable or place it wherever Mário wanted.
Everything suggests that they began filming in May. According to Mário Peixoto, he chucked away the first 300 meters of film because they did not correspond to what he wanted. Later, the takes ran smoothly.
Edgar Brasil was remarkably skillful: he assembled all the necessary mechanical devices from those stuffs supplied by Victor Breves, so that the ideas that came out of Mário’s mind could become images on the screen to everybody’s eyes. Edgar Brasil could assemble several types of equipment which made both the Kimano and the Ernemann cameras movable. He was able to accomplish forward travellings, vertical and round takes, besides other more complex movements. They were muscle power devices. Edgar Brasil also handled the Kimano camera appropriately and efficiently: he used it to film the takes of the train wheels, the lovers’ footprints on the beach sand, Taciana’s desperate rictus and to move it quickly over the water faucet. He also used it the same way to express his despair by moving the camera chaotically over the landscape. He also used it in the boat to film the takes that the Ernemann camera could not accomplish, and on Raul Schnoor’s shoulder to be able to film, from above, his own feet while he walked. Edgar placed both Kimano and Ernemann cameras wherever Mário wanted him to; he carried out precisely any camera movement that Mário asked him to. He built up a huge platform to film Olga on the road and a lamp-post insulator in the foreground. For the sequence of the thunderstorm, Rui Costa commented with admiration upon Edgar’s daring to take close-ups near the water. For the indoor filming, Edgar skillfully used the untiling method so that he could beautifully shoot Brutus Pedreira placed on the top of a staircase, the spotlights of Bhering factory during the film sequences, the audience and Brutus getting ready to play the piano.
Adhemar Gonzaga kept on helping him along: he did the material transportation between Paolo Benedetti’s film studio and the farm in Mangaratiba, while oftentimes Cinearte magazine reported the production and published some photos of the forthcoming film.
They all were wrapped up in full friendship, team spirit and peacefulness during the making of the film, and everybody who shared in those moments remember them as a happy and pleasant time. They finished filming it probably in October, and shortly after they began to edit it in Paolo Benedetti’s studio, and later in Mário’s residence sited in Almirante Tamandaré Street no. 35 and in Carmen Santos cinematographic studio in Tijuca. It was there that Carmen Santos asked Mário for the script of “Onde a Terra Acaba“. Between October and January 1931, they went to Alto da Boa Vista to film some additional takes with the Debrie Parvo camera of Carmen Santos and the sewing objects with the Mitchell camera from Cinédia lent by Adhemar Gonzaga. The sequence of the thunderstorm and of the docks prostitute with Carmen Santos were also done at that time. Mário Peixoto had demanded, as a precondition for him to write and direct “Onde a Terra Acaba”, that Carmen played that minor role and that her name did not appear on the initial credits of “Limite”.
Mário Peixoto said that the film cost 60,000 réis (Brazilian currency at the time). There are evidences that Mário’s father, João Cornélio, put up the money.
Brutus Pedreira, a pianist and musicologist, composed the original soundtrack of the film in 78 rpm records.
On May 17, 1931, “Limite” was shown to the public for the first time, at 10:30 a.m. at Capitolio movie theater. The Chaplin Club invited and Cinédia filmmaking company showed it. It is probable that Mário Peixoto was not present at the first exhibition, because he had been in Marambaia filming “Onde a Terra Acaba” since May 13. There was still a second public showing of “Limite”: it was on January 9, 1932 when Bazar magazine showed it at Eldorado movie theater.
“Limite” never came to the screens, despite Adhemar Gonzaga’s generous efforts. This unusual film was like a foreign body in the Brazilian cinematography, being rarely but periodically shown in the National Philosophy School through Plínio Süssekind Rocha‘s patronage.
In 1959, the motion-picture film, which was made of nitrate until mid-50’s, showed alarming signs of decay: it was chemically unstable, and so Mário Peixoto handed it over to Plínio Süssekind Rocha so that he could restore it. Plínio worked on it till 1977. He could still count on his pupil Saulo Pereira de Mello‘s help. Since then, the film has been ready to be shown again.
By Saulo Pereira de Mello
The accuracy of the information provided in this text can be confirmed in Mário Peixoto Archive Institute.