The Rio Tamanduateí flows 35 miles through Saõ Paulo city. It´s a urban river that is entirely enclosed by streets, bridges and cars. The birth of this body of water lies in Mauá, a border town of SP. From a small park, little creeks form a first stream that grows by passing through the sewage of Mauá to become a muddy brown liquid crawling towards SP. The banks of the river are made of concrete and used as highways. A canalized stream rapidly growing by entering the soil of civilization. For weeks I followed the river from the heart of Saõ Paulo, where the dirty sludge empties into the Rio Tietê, up to its source.
The video collage River of Doubt brings two Brasilian expeditions together in a storyline. Hundred years after the last rivers of the Amazon were explored, I tried to rediscover an urban river the flows through one of the biggest cities on earth. A journey from its mouth to the source along the course of a river that is almost entirely urbanized.
“The Paolistas, hunting for lands, slaves, and mines, were the first native Brazilians who, a hundred years ago, played a great part in opening to settlement vast stretches of wilderness. The rubber hunters have played a similar part during the last few decades. Rubber dazzled them, as gold and diamonds have dazzled other men and driven them forth to wander through the wide waste spaces of the world. Searching for rubber they made highways of rivers the very existence of which was unknown to the governmental authorities, or to any map-makers. Whether they succeeded or failed, they everywhere left behind them settlers, who toiled, married, and brought up children. Settlement began; the conquest of the wilderness entered on its first stage.”
“Of course, the most important work we did was the geographic work, the exploration of the unknown river, undertaken at the suggestion of the Brazilian Government, and in conjunction with its representatives. No piece of work of this kind is ever achieved save as it is based on long continued previous work. As I have before said, what we did was to put the cap on the pyramid that had been built by Colonel Rondon and his associates of the Telegraphic Commission during the six previous years. It was their scientific exploration of the Chapadão, their mapping the basin of the Juruena, and their descent of the Gy- Parana that rendered it possible for us to solve the mystery of the River of Doubt.”
Through the Brazilian Wilderness, by Theodore Roosevelt
Library of Congress Motion Picture, Washington, D.C. USA
Film is Roosevelt Memorial Association compilation of footage from TR's 1913-1914 trip to South America during which he combined a series of lectures with an expedition in the Amazon Valley of Brazil to collect zoological specimens. The Roosevelt group was combined with a group of Brazilian scientists under the leadership of Col. Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon to explore the course of the uncharted Rio da Dúvida, the River of Doubt. In 1926 George M. Dyott, an English explorer, was asked by the Roosevelt Memorial Association to retrace TR's voyage down the River of Doubt and to film his trip in order to supplement the footage from the 1914 trip.
Although the Roosevelt party did not see any Indians on the River of Doubt, their presence in the bordering jungle was evident; the man examining a broken branch may be Commander Dyott; the Dyott party did meet Indians and there is footage of several who were called Arara Indians by Dyott. The Roosevelt-Rondon group reached the end of the unknown portion of the River Apr. 15, 1914.
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