WARNING: Spoilers to come.
“ Invisible City ” debuted a few days ago on the Netflix platform and has already gained fans around the world. The series has grown in popularity for bringing a renowned cast to small screens and for exploring darker versions of classic Brazilian folk legends – creating a different story modeled after ‘Once Upon a Time’ and ‘Grimm. which have captivated audiences in the past decade.
But do you know what were the stories that inspired the production? And the origin of these emblematic stories of national culture? After all, it is almost redundant to say that the childhood of most Brazilians was based on intrigues involving Saci-Pererê, Cuca, Lobisomem and many others – through the beloved series “ Sítio do Pica- Pau Amarelo ” or other means.
To celebrate the importance of these legends, CinePOP has separated a short list exploring the stories and characters that have gained a whole new look in “Invisible City”.
Although not one of the great protagonists of the series, the mischievous character has been reshaped in contemporary times through the alter-ego Isac (Wesley Guimarães). Appearing in the southern region among the indigenous peoples of the Guarani ethnicity, the influential legend has spread to the countries neighboring Brazil and has been characterized in the most diverse way.
The most famous version is that of a black boy who lives in the forests and likes to play tricks on people. Endowed with only one leg, he wears a red falda and a hat that likes to disturb horses, invade houses and make hell for whomever he chooses. It is said that Saci can live to be 77 years old, and when he is on the verge of death, he transforms into a poisonous fungus known as the ear of wood (those found in the trunks of trees.
Historians believe that the origin of the legend dates back to an ancient Curupira root, as both are considered protectors of the forest.
One of the main beings in national folklore, Cuca (who was taken to small screens by Alessandra Negrini) is derived from a Galician-Portuguese legend called Coca, a pumpkin-headed witch who frightened small children.
The Brazilian legend has become popular with several similarities. The mythical creature here is also an old witch with claws, an alligator head, and a horrible voice, feared for kidnapping children who disobey their parents. Sleeping only one night every seven years, his life spans a millennium, until he lays an egg and another Cuca emerges, even more evil and more dangerous than the previous one.
The Queen of the Brazilian Waters was played by Jessica Cores in “Invisible City” – and the similarities are very clear compared to ancient history. Also part of European culture, the mythical tale of the mermaid was introduced by the Portuguese to the indigenous people who lived here in the 16th century, who adapted the legend to their enjoyment.
Daughter of a shaman and a powerful warrior, Iara was envied by her older brothers, who decided to come together to kill her. However, when she resisted and ended up murdering her tormentors, her father threw her between the Negro and Solimões rivers to die – eventually being rescued by the fish and becoming the creature as we know it.
Iara uses her beauty and vocal skills to seduce men who sail the river or stroll along its banks, dragging them to the bottom of the waters until they drown.
Played by Victor Sparapane in the Netflix series, Boto Cor-de-Rosa is one of the indigenous tribes of the Amazon region. The character is an intelligent animal who looks a lot like the dolphin and transforms into a handsome and attractive young man on full moon nights.
Legend has it that he comes out of the water during the June festivities, more precisely during the celebrations of Santo Antonio and São João, dressed in white and with a large hat to hide the features of the animal. Your wish? Choosing the prettiest single girl at parties, getting her pregnant, and ditching her – which, according to popular belief, was an argument used to explain pregnancy outside of marriage.
Despite being an uncontrollable debauchery, Boto also steps in as a river watcher, helping workers get lucky during the fishing season and guide them through treacherous waters on stormy nights. More than that, it also saves those who unfortunately fall from their boat.
With his identity hidden for a very long time in “Invisible City”, few people have ever heard of the dreaded Curupira. The controversial character is characterized as a sort of dwarf with red hair, a hairy body, sharp teeth and backward-facing feet, which he uses to deceive those who hunt him.
The protector of forests does not think twice before defending his house and the flora and fauna that inhabit it, using the most diverse devices to deceive the hunters, leaving them lost and frightened in the dense forest, without knowing where they got in and how to get out. With icy whistles and wolf-like howls, he’s called a demon for no reason.
Corpo-Seco is not one of the most well-known tales in the national pantheon – at least not as well-known as Mula-Sem-Cabeça and Boitatá, which were not ported in the show’s first season. However, the creature is one of the scariest in folklore.
Appearing at any time of the day or night, Corpo-Seco is a supposed boy who has spent his entire life disobeying his parents, fighting and hitting people. When he died, neither heaven nor hell accepted him; after being buried, the earth itself spits her out, causing her to transform into an evil creature that camouflages itself in trees and terrorizes the unfortunate people who cross her path with her rotten body, kissing them with long fingernails and dragging them into wood to kill them.
The name Tutu Marambá is probably unfamiliar – but the Bicho-Papão variant certainly is. Destroyer of children’s dreams, the hideous creature is a ghost that appears in several folk songs. Shapeless, his figure is constantly accompanied by darkness and his origin comes from African legends about ogres.
The monster is the lord of night terrors and inhabits the states of Bahia, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais.
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