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“Invisible City” review: the series rescues Brazilian folklore and the human essence

“Invisible City” review: the series rescues Brazilian folklore and the human essence

I am very proud to see the Brazilian audiovisual conquering an international audience that is delighting with the Brazilian way of making series and films, with our artistic talents, our culture and our way of telling stories. Streaming companies have a key role in spreading Brazilian culture to the world, especially Netflix, which has been investing massively in content made in Brazil. The new Netflix series “Invisible City” (original title: Invisible City)has become a popular case of success and it is among the “Top 10 most-watched TV shows on Netflix” across the world such as in France, New Zealand and Spain since its debuts on 5 February 2021.

 “Invisible City” is a drama, fantasy and thriller series created by Carlos Saldanha, a renowned Brazilian director who created two box-office animated films such as “Rio” and “Ice Age”. It is based on the story developed by screenwriters and bestselling authors Raphael Draccon and Carolina Munhóz, who also consult with project producers. It stars Marco Pigossi , Alessandra NegriniFábio LagoWesley GuimarãesJosé DumontJulia KonradJimmy London, Jessica Córe, Manu Dieguez, Thaia Perez  and others. 

 The conception of the series brings a Brazilian spirit from the original idea mixing to some Hollywood elements in the narrative and aesthetic when exploring Brazilian folklore and presenting it to the world. “Invisible City” depicts the story of Eric Alves (Marcos Pigossi), a dedicated and ethical young detective who works for the Environmental Police Station, and loses his wife Gabriela in a tragic fire accident that occurs in the Cedar forest, in Rio de Janeiro. From this incident, many strange things start happening and it gives Eric a sixth sense that many suspicious things are going on in Vila Toré, and they are linked to the death of his wife. He begins to investigate it by himself, contrarying to the orders of the Police Chief who doesn’t care about the case. After finding a dead freshwater pink dolphin on a beach in Rio de Janeiro, detective Eric becomes involved in a murder investigation and discovers a world inhabited by mythical entities usually unnoticed by humans. 

As he investigates mysterious deaths that mirror that of his own wife, Gabriela (Julia Konrad), it leads him into a community of entities with magical powers, whom he grew up listening to tales about them, such as Cuca (Alessandra Negrini), the leader of the entities, who possess magical powers, being mainly able to enter the minds of others and make them sleep by singing her music, which bears her name; Saci Pererê (Wesley Guimarães), the one-legged cheeky boy entity who disappears and reappears at will; Curupira (Fábio Lago) homeless person who is actually an entity that guards and protects Brazilian forests, perceived by his backward feet and flaming head; Pink dolphin, the seductive and captivating Dolphin capable of transforming into a man to seduce women; Iara, the entity in the form of a beautiful mermaid who, with her singing voice, lures men to the waters to drown them, among other mythological beings of the culture Brazilian. 

Sceptical, Eric takes a while to believe in the existence of mystical beings from the Brazilian folklores’ fables, disguised as human beings, living an ordinary life, among “normal” humans being. As more Eric gets closer to the mythical entities, the more he realises the connection he has with them and starts to deviate his own beliefs and convictions about another part of the world hitherto unknown to him. He eventually learns that he himself is a half-entity, and the river dolphin spirit Manaus (Victor Sparapane), whom he found dead as the story began, was his father.

Eric and his newfound compatriots learn that Dry Body, the escaped spirit of a dead, vanished anti-environmentalist evildoer, has possessed his daughter, Luna (Manu Dieguez), is killing forest entities out of revenge and is responsible for Gabriela’s death. Seeking a stronger host, Dry Body transfers from Luna to Eric and attempts to resume his killing spree. But Eric sacrifices his own life, killing Dry Body before the evil spirit can kill anyone else. In the final scene, he is mysteriously revived; and as the other entities carry his body into the forest, it is implied he has been reborn as a full entity.

Showrunner Carlos Saldanha alongside screenwriters Raphael Draccon and Carolina Munhóz saw a great opportunity to honour Brazilian popular culture whether it is part of the imagination of the Brazilian population such as Cuca, Iara, Tutu Marambá, Saci Pererê, Curupira and Corpo-Seco (Dry Body), and transport them to the present day, wrapping up them in an adult conception, leaving real dramas of contemporary Brazilian society as environmental crimes and deforestation of the forest.

The series proposes to discuss progress versus traditional lifestyle and this approach is very well linked to the stories of folklore legends – although I believe that some characters have not had their stories well explored like Saci Pererê, one of the most popular entities in Brazil, for example.

On the other hand, the plot of the business conspiracy of a powerful man in the construction industry, whether for suspicious reasons or to buy the land of the residents of Vila Toró, at all costs and how it is linked to the occurrence of strange things, which directly affect folkloric entities. it works very well. It is a metaphor for how progress and modernisation are destroying the world, destroying our identities as human beings.

Another interpretation of the narrative is that just like Eric, many of us Brazilians (this applies to people of any nationality as well) distanced and despised ourselves from our ancestors and culture, which are part of what we all are. We human beings, like plants, animals, land, are part of the wild nature and the environment, but our hunger for progress, modernisation, stimulated by capitalism and its culture make us forget what really matters. The series does not only rescue the stories of Brazilian folklore that we learned when we were a child and have been forgotten, but it also proposes to re-connect us with our essence, origin and roots. 

“Invisible City” received mixed to positive reviews. As of 14 February 2021, the series was rated 7.3 on IMDb by more than 1300 reviewers. Netflix announced that the second season will be producing soon. 

Check out the official trailer

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I am a script and creative writer, journalist, producer, and marketing content developer with over 9 years of experience in Media (TV / Film Production), Communication, Journalism and Marketing. I worked for companies such as MTV, Animal Planet, Band, Discovery and, Fremantle Media. I am from Brazil, but I've been living in Dublin, Ireland, since 2017. I am also maniac for entertainment and pop culture.
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