Rouge Brésil (2012), a French television mini-series, was telecast on TV5MONDE, back in December 2013. The first episode was shown on Tuesday, 17th December 2013; and I was between hospitals at the time, at home and under the false impression I was recovering. I watched the first episode, and was looking forward to checking out the next one, next Tuesday, of this two part mini-series. But alas my illness worsened. The second episode, the finalé, was shown on Christmas eve, Tuesday, 24th December, 2013; the day I was discharged from the second hospital, and re-rushed to the emergency a third time. Although was back by night, I was too ill and tired at the time to watch how Rouge Brésil would end. But then later I found out there was a to be a re-run of the second episode on Sunday, 5th January 2014, in the afternoon, at 15:28 hrs, thus I marked it on my calendar 3:20pm, hoping to check it out this time. But, still recovering, I must have been pretty tired, for I went to bed for a catnap, but instead fell into a deep sleep, and awoke at around 4:20pm, thus missed about an hour of the show, but watching the rest, last 35 to 40 minutes, of the show (I could somewhat guess what had happened), and watching the last bit, was totally worth it.
Rouge Brésil poster
Rouge Brésil: The Review  

Rouge Brésil (2012), is an interesting historical television movie that runs three hours altogether (i.e. a two part television mini-series, with an episode that runs 90 minutes each). The plot centres around an interesting part of European colonial history, set within the mid-16th Century (the 1550’s).
In 1555, under the orders of the King of France, Henry II, two vessels are sent to found a new colony. A group of Frenchman; comprising of sailors, craftsmen, priests, ex-convicts and Knights, whose leader is a Knight with belief of Quixotism (derived from the term ‘quixotic’, Quixotism was a form of impractical pursuit of idealism), Admiral Villegagnon (Stellan Skarsgård); travel from France to Brazil. Admiral Villegagnon, dreams this new land they venture towards would be a heavenly place where Catholics and Protestants can live together in peace and harmony. Two innocent teenagers are conned into this trip, by their Aunt. Brother and sister, Just (Théo Frilet) and Colombe (Juliette Lamboley), join the crew, (Colombe has to disguise herself as a boy, as no women are allowed to travel on board the vessel with Knights, sailors and ex-convicts), in hope to find their father (also a Knight) who, they are made to believe, to be residing in Brazil. On the way, the two befriend Martin (Olivier Chantreau), a thief, who’s travelling in secrecy unaware to the rest of the crew. When caught by a Knight, Montague (Sagamore Stévenin), Colombe manages to saves him by pleading to Admiral Villegagnon and Villegagnon’s quixotic beliefs in peace and forgiveness.
Soon the Ship reaches Rio de Janeiro, and the Frenchmen find themselves in a hostile environment with a Red Skinned (Rouge painted), nearly naked, cannibalistic, tribal community. Since it’s not safe to dock there, they head towards one of the islands of Guanabara Bay (today known as ‘Villegagnon Island’ named after Admiral Villegagnon) outside the mainland of Rio itself.
Meanwhile, Just and Colombe find out, they’ve been conned, and that their father was never in Brazil, and happens to have died sometime ago. The two teens now have learn to cope and survive on their own, amongst these strangers, to whom these two kids seem nothing but a nuisance.
During a struggle between Just and Martin (as Martin tried to rob from a dead man, and Just was trying to be just), the two boys are imprisoned and Colombe is taken by Admiral Villegagnon and a group of knights as an interpreter, to talk to the tribal community witnessed earlier in the mainland.
Colombe gets kidnapped by a another tribal community (which turns out be a better, non cannibalistic, community), while Admiral Villegagnon and his group venture forth to meet the cannibalistic tribe. To their surprise it’s headed by a fully clothed Portuguese man of war (pun intended), Joao da Silva (Joaquim de Almeida), who outwardly seems like an ally than a foe.
After spending a little time with the good tribe, Colombe goes back to her fellow Frenchman. Meanwhile Just, when about to be killed by Knight Montague, is revealed to be a son of a Knight, and Admiral Villegagnon pardons him as he knew Just’s father. But at the same time Admiral Villegagnon mentions that the Knights are sworn into chastity when joining the Knighthood.
A lot ensues, through this first episode, and ultimately, when the good tribe, are imprisoned by the Portuguese man, Joao da Silva, and presented as slaves to Admiral Villegagnon, Colombe tries to free them in secret, and she’s found out by two guards, and when they realise she’s a girl, they try to rape her. But she’s saved and tries to run away, along with the friendly tribal people. But while she tries to escape, she gets shot. That’s where the first episode ended.

Théo Frilet & Stellan Skarsgård in a scene from 'Rouge Brésil' (2012)

Théo Frilet & Stellan Skarsgård in a scene from ‘Rouge Brésil’ (2012)

The second episode, as I mentioned earlier, I missed about an hour. But I could gather what might have happened up till then.
When I switched on the telly, I saw a tribal dance taking place, with Just (Théo Frilet) and Admiral Villegagnon (Stellan Skarsgård), seated along with fellow Knights and watching the dance around the fire. Then I realised one of the near naked, red painted, dancing tribal women, was none other than Colombe (Juliette Lamboley). So I could guess, she’s obliviously been saved and joined the tribal community, and the brother and sister have been reunited after a certain period of time. During the dance, she drags her brother into the forest and tries to seduce him. He rejects her, reminding her, incest is a sin. She rebuffs his religious beliefs, telling him tribal people don’t have such prudish notions about love. But he lets her know, and he’s in love with another woman.
Next morning, when Just and the Knights, head back to the island, they witness a theological argument between the Catholics and Calvinists (Calvinism is a major branch of Protestantism). As two people from two faiths wished to marry. Now I guessed, after seeing all these women, in huge black gowns and Priest (who didn‘t exist in the first episode), that next vessel most probably had arrived while I was asleep (earlier on in the second episode). Only thing that wasn’t clear enough for me, was which party were the Catholics, and who were the Calvinists, or rather I don’t remember it.
Soon news travels that the island would be under attack by the Portuguese.
The good tribe is warned, and Colombe comes back to her fellow Frenchmen, but doesn’t discard her tribal appearance nor her new found sensibilities. Meanwhile Just is given the Knighthood for his courage and humanity, by Admiral Villegagnon. Yet Just, who since childhood had wanted to serve his king as a Knight all his life, refuses, because he thinks he’s in love with a woman from a different faith and wishes to marry, thus he won’t be able to fulfil the pledge of chastity.
Here comes and interesting twist, Admiral Villegagnon calls Just and Colombe, into his tent and tells them, how Just’s father had actually adopted Colombe, and that they are not in actuality brother and sister, and thus they are free to marry. Here for the first time we realise that Just too has been in love with Colombe, but due to social taboo’s he had restrained himself from showing any emotion other than a platonic one.

Juliette Lamboley  Top Left: In the guise of a boy. Top Right: Dressed as a tribal woman Bottom Row (middle): With Théo Frilet

Juliette Lamboley
Top Left: In the guise of a boy.
Top Right: Dressed as a tribal woman
Bottom Row (middle): With Théo Frilet

Soon the Portuguese ships attack, and Admiral Villegagnon and his people take refuge among the good tribe and start moving further inland into Rio. The year is 1560.
The show has a very impressive ending, and we see how the green jungle starts to turn into a modern beautiful concrete jungle of the 21st century.

Brilliant Cinematography. The tale told beautifully. And some perfectly fitting actors, with superb acting skills, for their said roles.
Swedish actor, Stellan Skarsgård, is superb as Admiral Villegagnon. French actor, Théo Frilet, who most probably was in his mid-20’s at the time this was made, is very believable as a teenage Just, almost a decade younger than him. Juliette Lamboley too is quite convincing as a young boy in the first episode, and a tribal woman is the next.
Joaquim de Almeida, Sagamore Stévenin and Olivier Chantreau are all perfect in their consecutive roles.

I actually wanted to write this review last month, but never got around to doing so. Thus my today’s review, is based entirely on my memory of what I can recall from a month and more ago.

Nuwan Sen’s TV Sense
Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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