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Grande Sertão: the adaptation of the famous literary work of Guimarães Rosa

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

Published in 1956, Grande Sertão: Veredas tells the story of Riobaldo and his experiences in the Minas Gerais outback. During this journey, which takes more than 600 pages, he meets:

  • Reinaldo/Diadorim/Diadorina (his platonic and restrained love);
  • Zé Bebelo (a local farmer who looks to extinguish the “jagunços” of the region);
  • Joca Ramiro (a leader of one group of “jagunços”);
  • Hermógenes (a leader of another “jagunços” team);
  • Otacília (Riobaldo’s promised fiancé);
  • Nhorinhá (Riobaldo’s lover, which represents his carnal desires), and so on.

“Outback is inside us.”

(“Sertão é dentro da gente.”)

Grande Sertão: Veredas – Guimarães Rosa

By the time the book was written, the History scenario was World  War II, which led artists all over the world to bring to light the discussion of the extreme individualistic human mindset – a fact exposed by the countries’ actions during the war – what happened in this Brazilian masterpiece. Also, the social portrayal of Mina’s outback explores the deepest conflicts of interest between the characters, searching for justice, sexism standards, and on-edge feelings every time by Guimarães Rosa’s extraordinary writing style.


The movie released on June 6th tries to give the classical book a new appearance by building a comparison between the reality that the written piece reveals and the current marginalized society in Brazil. The movie uses the original story to show that the social problems never changed, but just are found in a distinct format nowadays. The illegal drug traffic and the “milícias” organizations are the focus of the cinema, whereas the “jagunços” organizations were the focal point in the book. 

“When a child is killed, everybody is guilty. When a child is killed, including God is wrong.”

(“Quando matam uma criança, todo mundo é culpado. Quando matam uma criança, até Deus tá errado.”)

Grande Sertão movie

The adaptation, in this way, is remarkable and innovative, in what concerns me, even though critics said the director, Guel Arraes, failed in this mission. 


Furthermore, another point to praise in the production is the astonishing scenography that makes the audience realize the outback – now “favelas”- complexity. This is due to the variety of angles, frameworks, contrasts, and colors scale. Apart from that, during the movie, there is a scene in which Hermógenes is revealed to us as the main villain by comparing his look with that of the devil. This is made in such a brilliant way, that at first sight, the public can identify his paper in the story.

On the other hand, there are some aspects that are imprescindible to be highlighted by lack of adequate development of quality of the work:

  • acting quality;
  • the love triangle between some of the main characters. 


The cast counts on stars from Brazilian television, such as Caio Blat as Riobaldo; Luisa Arraes as Diadorim; Eduardo Sterblitch as Hermógenes; Luiz Miranda interpreting Zé Bebelo; Rodrigo Lombardi as Joca Ramiro; Luellen de Castro as Nhorinhá and Mariana Nunes as Otacília. 
Between all Eduardo Sterblitch, Rodrigo Lombardi and Luellen de Castro are the main highlights of their unique interpretation that makes us feel everything that is portrayed is real and happening in real life. Sterblitch presents the villain compared to the demon with the power and thirst for revenge of the character brightly. Lombardi interprets Joca Ramiro with the justice and leadership spirit he requires cleverly. And – last, but not least – de Castro illustrates the sexuality and intelligence of Nhorinhá vividly.

“The peace everybody wants. So why does it take so long to arrive?”

(“A paz todo mundo quer. Então por que demora tanto a chegar?“)

Grande Sertão movie

Whereas the other actors perform more theatrically, with less natural dialogues, as is needed in drama plays. This does not mean that the movie quality goes down, especially because this is a representation, not the reality, however, the audience frequently remembers it is just a movie, which turns out in a more complex way to engage in the production. 


Nhorinhá, Riobaldo, and Diadorim compound a love triangle in the plot, a fact that is really well presented and developed in the print version. However, on the big screens, we feel Nhorinhá steals the rare scenes with the alluring and evolving acting of the actress. As a result, we come across a poorly produced story part.


Bearing in mind adaptations tend to not do justice to the original story, the 2024 production of Grande Sertão has a strong kinship with what is exposed in the book, even changing the reality question portrayed. In the same way, Rosa was capable of showing his time scenario, Arraes was capable of doing the same with the contemporary one, brilliantly taking into consideration the writer’s manner to see the world he was surrounded by.

“Living is dangerous.”

(“Viver é perigoso.”)

Grande Sertão movie


All this considered, I would say the movie is worth the pay.  Contrary to what many critics said, I genuinely believe it is a must-film, principally, because by it we, as citizens and political creatures, can realize how much the national reality has not really transformed, but actually, kept the same problems rooted in different social mechanisms and areas.

However, just a reminder: go to the cinema ready to see violence, blood, injustices, and some of the failures I could identify in it. 

“The real demon doesn’t exist. What exists is the human being.”

(“O diabo real não existe. O que existe é o homem humano.”)

Grande Sertão movie


The article above was edited by Isabelle Bignardi.

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Marina Buozzi

Casper Libero '27

A journalist in formation passionated about Communication and discovering new stories, living unusual experiences and learning different things.