It's 1910, and a feud over land has caused generations of deaths for two Brazilian peasant families. Now it's 20-year-old Tonio's turn to murder and be murdered; nothing, it seems, can break the cycle of violence.
Three years ago, Walter Salles' Central Station was beaten to the Oscar by Life Is Beautiful. This year, Amélie looms large in his sights, but Behind The Sun deserves its place on the podium with the very best of them.
It's certainly one of the most beautifully photographed films you might ever see, but Walter Carvalho's camerawork isn't gratuitously pretty; rather, the visual style actually strengthens the story on a metaphorical level. The golden glow that bathes the peasants' chores contrasts with night-time shadow, as Tonio knows that the truce keeping him alive ends at the next full moon.
Likewise, the radiant brotherly love within one family contrasts with the dark hate they hold for their neighbours. As the heavy footsteps of tragedy close in on the story, age-old notions of honour and revenge seem stupid and outdated beside his youthful will to live.
A strong story, rich in visual symbolism, with every frame composed with care and shot with feeling. If that doesn't make for a perfectly self-contained tragedy - but one with universal significance - what does?