Mário Peixoto is born, probably in Brussels, where he lived until he was two years old.
Enters the Santo Antônio Maria Zaccaria School, where he meets Octávio de Faria and Plínio Süssekind Rocha.
He travels to Europe. Then he returns to Brazil and meets Brutus Pedreira and Adhemar Gonzaga.
He returns from another short trip to Europe. Mário writes the script of Limite.
Mário shoots Limite in Mangaratiba.
Limite is shown in a special session. Mário shoots Onde a Terra Acaba, which has not been concluded. He publishes his first book: Mundéu.
In 1934 and 1935, he publishes O Inútil de Cada Um.
Mário tries to shoot Maré Baixa, but does not succeed.
He intends to shoot Três Contra o Mundo, with Eva Schnoor.
He writes Sargaço, which would become A Alma, Segundo Salustre.
Mário Peixoto dies in Rio de Janeiro of a heart attack.
Mário Peixoto claimed to be Mário José Breves Rodrigues Peixoto, although all of his documents read Mário Breves Peixoto. He was the son of João Cornélio Rodrigues Peixoto and Carmen Breves Rodrigues Peixoto. His mother was a descendant of Commendator Joaquim José de Souza Breves who was the greatest coffee grower and slave dealer in the imperial system; and his father was a descendant of the Rodrigues Peixoto family, the sugar mill owners from the city of Campos. João Cornélio attended the Polytechnical School and there are evidences that he studied Chemistry in Belgium, period during which Mário Peixoto would have been born. When he returned to Brazil, he seemed to have worked with no pay in the Botanical Garden. His parents were related: Carmen was the mother-in-law’s cousin, whose name was Cornélia Rodrigues Peixoto. Actually, Mário Peixoto’s fortune came from the Rodrigues Peixoto family and not from the Breves, who had already become poor at that time.
Mário Peixoto claimed to have been born in Brussels (Belgium), which is probable but not true, and the diary he wrote in England in 1927, “My Diary”, reveals the date: March 25, 1908 – the very date when David Lean was born, the movie director that Mário Peixoto admired most.
Mário Peixoto also claimed to have lived in Belgium until the age of two. He had two brothers: Luiz José who died under the age of three in Brazil in 1913, and Octávio who was born in 1922, the very year when their mother, Carmen, passed away.
In 1917, Mário entered “Santo Antônio Maria Zaccaria” School where he studied until 1926, when he dropped out in the last year to travel to England. Up to that time, he used to sojourn in his paternal grandfather’s home, sited in Almirante Tamandaré Street, no. 35 in Flamengo, in his family’s summerhouse placed on Koehler Avenue, no. 190 in Petrópolis, and also in his paternal grandfather’s farm called Santa Cecília in Volta Redonda.
In England, Mário Peixoto took up residence in Hopedene College, in Willington (Sussex), near Eastbourne, from October 1926 up to August 1927. He did not have a pleasant time during his stay over there, although it was important to him. He hated the British climate and cultural formalities, but it was over there that he found out he wanted to become an actor. When he came back to Brazil in September 1927, he was introduced by the poet, playwright and academician Cláudio de Souza to Brutus Pedreira, who took him to Teatro de Brinquedo (Puppet Theater). There Mário met the brothers Sylvio and Raul Schnoor and later, their sister Eva, when he went to their house. In the course of 1928, in that same house, he also met Adhemar Gonzaga and Pedro Lima who, on weekends, had been filming “Barro Humano” in which Eva was the leading actress. Possibly at that time, it dawned on him that he wanted to make a film or act, since he wished to become an actor.
Still in 1928, the Chaplin Club was founded, a guild where they could talk about cinema theories and, in which Octávio de Faria, Mário Peixoto’s childhood friend and favorite interlocutor, also took part. It is possible to say that Mário Peixoto came to know about movie theories through Octávio de Faria; and thus he supplemented his knowledge while he watched the making of “Barro Humano”.
He possibly returned to England in 1929, along with his father, impelled by a strong desire to find out more about the moviedom and watch more films. This time he had a relatively short stay over there. From London, he continued to correspond with Octávio de Faria, who was in Paris at that time. Octávio wrote to Mário about some places he should visit when he went to Paris. Mário attributed great importance to those letters because they somehow supplemented their conversations about cinema and literature. We do not know what Mário saw while he stayed in London and Paris, but we have just to take a look at the newspapers of that period to find out what he might have seen. We also do not know whether he frequented any artistic, literary, intellectual or cinematographic group.
According to Mário Peixoto, he saw the picture that gave rise to “Limite” on the 74th “Vu” magazine cover, published on August 14, 1929, when he was still in Paris. It represented, in a front view, a woman’s face with big staring eyes surrounded by a man’s arms with his hands shackled in the foreground. According to Mário, at that very night, he drafted out the thrill he had felt when he first saw that picture.
Back to Brazil in October 1929, Mário Peixoto frequented again Mrs. Schnoor’s house and probably the Teatro de Brinquedo (Puppet Theater), and it is possible that he was present at the making of “Lábios sem Beijos” and “Saudade”, Adhemar Gonzaga’s two unfinished films. It is possible that, in the meantime, he met Carmen Santos and Edgar Brasil.
Mário’s desire to make a film became a decision to do so – and thus “Limite” was born.
When it was finished, “Limite” did not come to the screens, despite Adhemar Gonzaga’s efforts, but the Chaplin Club sponsored its première showing at Capitolio movie theater at 10:30 a.m. on May 17, 1931. As a result of that, many articles were written about it.
In that same month, Mário began to film “Onde a Terra Acaba” – an expensive and ambitious production financed by Carmen Santos, who was also the leading actress. They started to film in May and the press carried out a quite intense coverage. However, Carmen Santos and Mário Peixoto broke off around December, and the production was discontinued. Still in 1931, Mário Peixoto published a poem book called “Mundéu“, and in 1934/1935 he published “O Inútil de Cada Um“.
In 1936, together with Pedro Lima, Mário started to produce a film called “Constância”. However, Pedro Lima quit working on it some time later. Then, Mário planned to produce “Maré Baixa”, also called “Mormaço”. Players were chosen, places were visited, photographic tests were carried out; nevertheless, the project fizzled out when Pedro Lima was away on a trip and when Mário linked up with Cinedia filmmaking company. Pedro Lima and Adhemar Gonzaga had broken off since 1930.
In 1937, as suggested by Carmen Santos, with whom he had reconciled since 1934 through Pedro Lima’s channel, Mário wrote the script of “Tiradentes”. Yet, Carmen did not use it, got hold of it and vanished.
In 1938, Mário Peixoto tried to produce “Três Contra o Mundo” featuring the romantic duo of “Barro Humano” – Eva Schnoor and Carlos Modesto – both already married at that time. Still in 1938, he got the “Sítio do Morcego” ranch and the apartment in Souza Lima Street as a present from his father.
In 1946, when the World War II ended, the Brazilian movies gathered new momentum, and then Mário Peixoto, together with Carmen Santos and Afonso Campiglia, decided to restart filming “Onde a Terra Acaba” into a talking movie version. But the project was discontinued.
Probably in 1947, he wrote the script of “O ABC de Castro Alves”, made by Jorge Amado to Carmen Santos; yet, the film itself was not produced. Carmen kept the script and it disappeared.
In the following year, 1948, Rui Santos and Afonso Campiglia declared that they would make two films – “Sargaço” by Mário Peixoto and “Muiraquitã” by Jonald, the film critic for the “A Noite” newspaper. The news spread like wildfire on all papers, but soon they declared that those films would be replaced with another one – “Estrêla da Manhã – script by Jorge Amado, photography by Rui Santos and direction by Jonald. Mário Peixoto, as well as his film called “Sargaço”, has not been heard of since; so he changed the script of that film into “A Alma Segundo Salustre“. Since then, Mário concentrated on this project and admitted that he would nevermore carry out another one. Over the following years, the making of this film was spread far and wide and, in 1983, Carlos Augusto Calil published the script of “A Alma Segundo Salustre” through Embrafilme (State Film Department). In 1984, Mário Peixoto brought out, through Record Publishing House and Jorge Amado’s efforts, the first volume of the new edition of his novel of 1934/1935, “O Inútil de Cada Um”, which was later extended to six volumes.
In 1988, “Limite” was chosen the best Brazilian film of all times in a national opinion poll fostered by the Cinemateca Brasileira (Brazilian cinematheque). Mário Peixoto was awarded with a special prize by the government of the State of Rio de Janeiro in October 1988 as well as a pecuniary grant-in-aid from the “Fundação Vitae” (Vitae Foundation) in January 1989 for him to complete the remaining volumes of “O Inútil de Cada Um”.
In 1991, in extremely weak financial situation, he fell ill. Walter Salles, a genuinely kindhearted aristocrat, was the one who came to Mário’s aid and assisted him to the last. After having been operated on, he had to move back again to his apartment in Souza Lima Street, in Rio de Janeiro.
At noon on February 2, 1992, Mário Peixoto died in his sleep.
In 1995, when the centennial of the motion picture was celebrated, “Limite” was once again considered the best Brazilian film of all times in a national opinion poll fostered by the “Folha de São Paulo” newspaper.
By Saulo Pereira de Mello
The accuracy of the information provided in this text can be confirmed in Mário Peixoto Archive Institute.