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  End of Man Self-Styled Messiah
Year: 1971
Director: José Mojica Marins
Stars: José Mojica Marins, Teresa Sodré, Roque Rodrigues, Rosângela Maldonado, Mario Lima, Andreia Bryan
Genre: Trash, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: On the shore of a port town in Brazil, a naked man emerges from the waves and walks onto the beach, alarming a couple who are canoodling there. But that is nothing compared to what he does to the elderly, wheelchair-bound woman he meets in a nearby house: she is so shocked that she leaps to her feet and runs all the way down the beach to her relatives, only for them to proclaim her recovery a miracle. The stranger wanders the streets, catching the attention of the locals, and occasionally doing good deeds such as saving a mother and her little daughter from rapists, but what is he really here for? Could he be a messiah?

Or is that what the film's writer and director, José Mojica Marins, wants to to believe of his own good self? Seemingly tired of the criticism his horror films were receiving, Marins opted to turn to God for his next project, or at least the Almighty as he saw him in his typically eccentric view. Finis Hominis, or End of Man, was the result, a modern day parable that meanders around various morality lessons with him as the star, on the surface the opposite of the wicked Coffin Joe persona he was so well known for, but actually suffused with the same overwhelming ego that his fans had come to know.

Alas, his fans were much happier with Coffin Joe and hardly anyone went to see End of Man, not wishing to be lectured by the man who brought you torture sessions in the name of entertainment. Not that this dampened Marins' enthusiasm, as he continued to film his tiny budget epics at a Herculean rate, so it's intriguing to see him tackle something different with this. Or it would be if he had a better handle on his plotlines, because once he has established that there is a messianic type of chap performing good deeds and offering food for the locals' thought, Marins lets his pontificating get away from him.

Indeed, he lapses into the sexploitation side of things quite quickly, with much female nudity supplied by doting hippy chicks and other so-called nymphomaniacs. If you think this is balanced by the fact that we get to see José's unadorned form, then it's not entirely clear if it is him doing the naked stroll around the town; he would have undoubtedly been arrested if caught, and we only see closeups of his recognisable eyes to accompany the shots from the rear or from a distance of the possible stand-in. Whatever, it's a real attention-grabber of an introduction, even if it does feel a bit Candid Camera in its execution.

Our stranger, naming himself Finis Hominis after what a priest exclaims when he is caught by him supping the Communion wine, does get to wear clothes eventually, and he looks very dapper in his red and gold turban and Indian mystic-style robes, proceeding to perform miracles (or are they?) and acts of charity to become the talk of the town. There are nightly news bulletins on his activities and he quickly gains followers - then the film gets sidetracked by the story of a millionaire (Roque Rodrigues) who is being duped out of his fortune by greedy relatives and hangers-on. This is actually a version of the Biblical Lazarus tale, but it's difficult to credit Marins with much faith in his scripture considering his twist ending that sees the stranger revealed as not what everyone thought he was, although they get to keep their illusions intact. Ego run wild or a lesson for us all? End of Man could well be both. Music by Herminio Giménez (apart from the muzak rendition of "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head", one presumes.)
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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