Rough English version (I did a Google translation and tryied to correct some things):
Something that I left out of the previous text was the influences and articulations with other works like movies, literature, and comics, which I do in the construction of the entire aesthetic of Virgil's Purgatory. In part my faulty act, which my friend Luiz Souza called my attention to. In the end, it wouldn't fit everything there is to talk about in the previous text. Some of my picks date back to 2016, when I made the PC version with a Super Game Boy look, and some are recent and have been incorporated into this new version for ZX Spectrum.
One of my constant practices is to seek inspiration outside the world of video games, always articulating sources from other languages. The thing of articulating national and international classic works with the so-called Pop Culture is purposeful, anyway what would be more "Pop" than the video game nowadays? In 2016, I was mainly inspired by the film "Deus e o Diabo na terra do Sol" by Glauber Rocha ("God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun"), by Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, and by Cordel's popular literature (string literature).
Years ago, reading the verse edition of The Divine Comedy, I could only think of how similar the "Repente Nordestino" was with it, with the typical verses also frequent in cordel literature, was in form and in certain approaches to Dante's famous work. It is from this articulation that I used to make in my head that the game universe emerged, everything should have a look that refers to woodcuts, often in string literature, with short verses and rhymes, also similar to the work of Dante and the Northeastern Popular Literature.
In "The Divine Comedy" the poet Dante dies and descends to Purgatory. His guide is the ancient Roman poet Virgil (whom he has as his patron in the arts, in the greatest spirit of the Renaissance). Virgil is Dante's spiritual guide, and explains to him the landscape in each of the "planes" of Purgatory, Hell, and Paradise at the end. In every place he passes he meets his detractors, political enemies, bourgeois and priests, as well as friends, each suffering the fate, or torture, that life has led them to deserve.
"God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun" is a reference that I already make explicit in the game's poster art, which copies elements of the art from one of the film's posters. The Practice of citing movie posters, and articulating them with another language, I took from the creation procedure of the black metal band "Ghost", which does a lot of that in song lyrics and record covers. If in music an artist can, and should, look for inspiration outside music, why not videogames as well?
In Glauber Rocha's movie, an important character for the protagonist's destiny, Vaqueiro Manoel, is the pilgrim Santo Sebastião, who preached against the misery of people deprived of support by local landlords. He then gives the protagonist a path to walk, something to follow when he feels lost, until the religious frenzy takes on an almost lysergic atmosfere and mental confusion. Clearly inspired by the figure of "Antônio Conselheiro" (Canudos war in Brazil), this was the figure that inspired the game's Pilgrim. Like the Poet/guide Virgílio from Divine Comedy, my pilgrim gives tips, insinuates the direction the protagonist should follow, but always in an enigmatic and poetic way, giving room for the player/reader's interpretation.
Purgatory is the first place visited by Dante, and it is where in the Christian religion sinful souls who have some salvation atone for their sins. It is a "temporary hell", so to speak, not constituting eternal damnation. There is also an important detail in the characterization of my Virgil's Purgatory: it is not just any purgatory, but the character's personal projection on what purgatory should be. I assume that magic, or the invisible, like the afterlife, can only be what one believes it to be. If the cangaceiro lived in that popular Christian religiosity, the life of a sinner in search of justice, he could only imagine going to purgatory where he would face all his demons. It is about using the magical concept of the "form idea", presented to me by the tales of my friend Luiz Souza,and which can also be identified in the work of Neil Gaiman.
Virgílio was the perfect name, because at the same time that he referred to the poet of the Divine Comedy, he also remembers Lampião's name, Virgulino (most famous Cangaceiro gunslinger in Brazil history). But my cangaceiro is not simply Lampião, he, like Curisco in Glauber Rocha's movie, embodies the spirit of the mythical cangaceiro. That myth is almost always associated with Lampião in "string literature", but which makes the figure of the cangaceiro gunslinger tragic, violent, revolt against the authorities, and also poetic. Result of an arid land and a brutal society, he takes all the hardness of society in deep old Brazil to an extreme (think about wild west).
Something I've done new for this 2021 ZX remake of the game, is related to the look and visuals of the game. In addition to what I said in the previous text about technical limitations, there are also choices that I really appreciate. I was inspired by the woodcuts in "string literature", but it would be much more uninteresting to just reproduce the look of these on the screen. Rereading it through pixel art interests me because I can create an original visual from it. I am then inspired to create something that is "plastically" different from Woodcut, but still retains something of it. Part of the inspiration, at least in the choice of colors, also came from the comic books "Sin City" by Frank Miller. In the drawings of the comics, black and white predominates, with some key elements in red or yellow, from time to time.
But where do I want to get with all this effort? What does it mean for me to articulate Glauber Rocha, with The Divine Comedy, String Literature, Woodcuts, with the fantastic magician and Frank Miller? It means not only explaining some of the cultural references that formed me, but also associating them without hierarchies, and without idealizations or either shame. Because many times, one work "checks" certain ideals present in the other. It means taking a stand against the idea of culture as a plastered tradition, and understanding that culture is only alive when it is constantly changing. That which has stopped transforming is not alive, and if it is not dead and buried, it becomes a zombie, a "living dead", a carcass that roams and occupies the space that could harbor new life. This is also the case with culture,and any attempt to maintain some artificial "Purity" will always be authoritarian and still doomed to failure in the long run.
What is obsolete in the first world is often new here, and so the industry has a place to dump all the garbage stranded in its warehouses. I wouldn't exactly call it an advantage, but one of the consequences of my cultural formation in the third world, where things always arrive second or third hand, is that we learn to be a kind of "garbage collector". Of looking for the pearls, or their fragments, among the trash from the leftovers of canned goods that are relegated to us to "amuse ourselves" and soothe. On the other hand, we have a poignant traditional folk culture heritage. At this crossroads, the most common is either for people to close themselves in tradition to deny the rubbish that comes from abroad, or to embrace Foreign Pop Culture while ignoring the entire local culture. For me (and luckily not only for me and this is not new in most artistic languages throughout the history of art) there is nothing to throw away. Part of my job is to select and digest what comes to me, and to make pearls from sand if its what it's need. Not to please "the market", not to please any boss, but for the sake of my own cultural survival. I should never let myself run over unconscious of the world that crushes me.
Below is an excerpt of the lyrics from the song I transcribed and is in the middle of the movie "God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun", and that relate to my game (track 7, Corisco, on the movie's soundtrack album):
"From the death of Monte Santo,
left Manoel Cowboy
By the pity of Antonio,
The story goes on,
pay more attention.
Manoel and Rosa walked,
in the paths of the Sertão.
Until one day,
by the yes and the no.
came into their lives,
Curisco, the devil of Lampião"
Soon after, an excerpt from the monologue of the cangaceiro Curisco speaking to his wife, the cangaceira Dadá. I didn't remember this dialogue anymore, I had watched the movie a few years ago and I saw it again moments before writing this text, but it is interesting how the question of the "head" is addressed here and how it is also present in my game:
"Take the ghosts out of my head that I can't stand to see you suffering anymore. It's been 3 days, it's a long time for those who lived in the war. Maria Bonita's body swelled and rotted. The animals are now eating her pretty eyes. Maria died, but Lampião is alive. Virgulino (Lampião birth name) ended up in the flesh but the spirit is alive. The spirit is here in my body and now he has joined the two. Cangaceiro with two heads, one on the outside, the other on the inside. One killing, the other thinking . see if this two-headed man can't fix this backlands" (emphasis mine).
Links and images with more comments:
Blog with stories by Luiz Souza: https://praiadoesquecimento.blogspot.com/
String Literature; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordel_literature
God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_God,_White_Devil
Full movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyTnX_yl1bw
Wikipedia entry on Sin City: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sin_City
Entry on the poet Virgil: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgil
On the right, the cover of the band's first album, Ghost, from 2008, and on the right, the poster for the movie Salem's Lot, also called Black Sabbath, which is certainly one of the films that influenced the creation of the video game Castlevania. More parallels between this band's album covers and movie posters at this link: https://whiplash.net/materias/news_755/302240-ghost.html
" In the last chapter, Camus outlines the myth of Sisyphus, who challenged the gods: when captured suffered a punishment: for all eternity, he would have to push a rock of a mountain to the top, the stone then would roll down and it would again have It's all about starting. Camus sees Sisyphus as the being who lives life to the full, hates death, and is condemned to a pointless task, like the absurd hero.
Woodcut by the northeastern artist J.Borges. More information at: https://followthecolours.com.br/art-attack/xilogravura-nordestina/