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In the Brazilian movie Bacurau, inhabitants of the fictional town are shown to be taking some kind of drug, that is later referred to as "a powerful psychotropic drug" by one of the protagonists.

The full quote is:

We have taken a powerful psychotropic drug. And you are going to die.

The drug is administered to someone that returns to the town after being away for a long time right on entry, almost like a kind of vaccine. Later the drug reappears in several scenes, in one scene a fatally wounded person is asked if they want to live or not, and are given the drug when they confirm that they want to live.

I don't really understand the metaphor here, and would be interested in hearing opinions on what this drug is supposed to symbolize, or why the filmmakers decided to make it an element in the story.

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I just saw the movie last night and was intrigued by the same question. The thought occurred to me that perhaps it was a device that allows them to transcend their naturally better nature, in order to meet the movie's genre-bending directive.

If we see this movie as the fight between good and evil, and the inhabitants of Bacarau are essentially good people, the question becomes how could they do these deeds, i.e., killing? Perhaps it could be seen as a form of self-defense but they take it even further, by practically becoming active and aggressive killers.

And in light of the times, with all of Brazil's social, economic and political problems, an escalated form of violence seems to have almost become the norm in places (so, beyond just the movie's genre-bending directive, it might actually be an accurate representation of everyday life in Brazil). Perhaps this drug is a way for them to step into dealing with the harsh times, while acknowledging that it isn't their natural state. Just a guess.

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I watched the film recently. It's basically a mash-up of South American magical realism whose best known exponent is Gabriel Marquez and United States film noir, ie gangsterism in the Godfather style.

The psychedelia is most likely a way of signifying magical realism.

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