HUM 2270-45 (2823) – Humanities: East-West Synthesis
23 October 2012
How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman
The movie opens up in Brazil, 1594. We see and are read part of a letter that, a French Admiral, Nicolas Durand de Villegagnon, has written in Antarctic France and sent a letter to a fellow Frenchman, Jon Calvin, in Sweden. Nicolas founded Fort Coligny in 1555 and is a friend of the Tupinamba Indians. Jon Calvin is known for his start of the development of Calvinism, which is a type of Protestant theological system.
We are narrated the letter as we watch a Portuguese prisoner, light-skinned, French man, played by actor Arduino Colassanti, wearing a ball and chain around his right ankle being pushed into a body of water. The man narrating the letter says “He broke loose and threw himself into the water.” They assume he drowns, but we soon see him walking along the water. The letter contradicts what we are seeing on the film. I feel that Admiral Villegagnon is lying to make it seem like less of the enemy. He calls the native people ‘barbaric savages,’ yet I would have to say his behavior was barbaric. Four Tupiniquin Indians capture the escaped man, but the next day they are attacked by their enemy, the Tupinamba Indians. The young Frenchman is soon spotted and captured by the indian tribe who are also wearing fealthered head gear, the Tupinamba. They are allies with the French and enemies of the Tupiniquin Indians who are allies with Portugal.
They take the man as their slave to avenge one of their tribesmen Tapirucu’s death at the hands of their enemy. We learn that he was working for Villegagnon in Rio de Janeiro and was forced out and captured by the Portuguese. They do not believe he is French and the only other Frenchman, a tradesman, in the village lies to them and agrees that he is Portuguese. I think he may have done this to possibly save his own life even though he was on good terms with the Tupinamba tribe. The other Frenchman tells him that he will be happy before he dies in 8 months at the hands of the cannibalistic tribe. The enslaved Frenchman is given a wife from their tribe named Seboipepe. She is the widow of the man killed. He is allowed to live, eat, and work with the tribe. He adjusts to the new life. He learns to speak Tupi, gathers wood, and gives the tribe leader gun powder. He also adjusts to the tribe physically by cutting his hair to look like the other men and not wearing clothes as they did. He makes the best out of what’s left of his life, but you see that he is always looking for a way to escape. I think that is a fair way to feel, to think. He was after all a captive knowing his life would end after some months. The chief starts to treat the young man the ways of the tribe, accepting him, teaching him.
One day, Cunhambebe, the chief of the Tupinamba tribe, asks him to get gun powder. He tells the chief that it is on a ship. Then he comes to the tradesman asking him to provide some, but is told no. He wants to trade with the tradesman for gunpowder, but was told that Villegagnon wouldn’t not sell or trade gunpowder to the savages. The trader tells him that he would return and take him