Burn!

 (139)
7.11 h 52 min1970R
A professional mercenary who had helped rebels gain independence of their Caribbean island years earlier returns when these same revolutionaries have gained too much power and threaten British sugar interests.
Directors
Pontecorvo,Gillo
Starring
Marlon BrandoEvaristo M?rquezNorman Hill
Genres
DramaActionMilitary and War
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English
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Supporting actors
Renato SalvatoriDana GhiaValeria Ferran WananiGiampiero AlbertiniCarlo PalmucciThomas LyonsJoseph P. Persaud?lvaro MedranoAlejandro Obreg?nEnrico CesarettiCicely BrowneMaurice Rodriguez
Producers
Alberto Grimaldi
Studio
Classics
Rating
R (Restricted)
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
Available to watch on supported devices

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Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

139 global ratings

  1. 65% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 19% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 9% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 4% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

RpgReviewed in the United States on August 13, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Brando at his best
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Often overlooked, this movie is set in the Antilles in the days of European colonization.

Brando plays a British agent plotting against the Portuguese rulers of the island. The island’s economy is based on sugar plantations employing African slaves.

Brando identifies a slave who Brando uses to lead a successful slave revolution against the Portuguese. Upon the exit of the Portuguese, the English step in to take over the island and Brando returns to solve the problem of all the recently freed slaves: selling the idea of paying the freed slaves to work. It’s cheaper than slavery since you only pay when they work and have no responsibility to care for the slaves.
W. WalkerReviewed in the United States on August 18, 2007
4.0 out of 5 stars
flawed but viewable take on colonialism and imperialism.
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I see the main characters and setting of this film as purely symbolic. The island has a fictional name:Queimada, which refers to a once popular European spicy alcoholic drink. As part of its preparation, it underwent burning, which supposedly scared away evil spirits. This strongly relates to the film story. It is said to be a former Portuguese colony in the Caribbean. The Portuguese were once among the most ruthless colonialists, but they stayed clear of the Caribbean. Thus, the Portuguese connection is purely symbolic. Brando's character, William Walker, is the namesake for perhaps the most fanatical conquistador the US ever produced, whose ultimate ambition in his last years was to annex most of Central America, Cuba and maybe even more parts of Mexico, to be admitted as slave states, to bolster the flagging political power of the South in its competition with the North. Thus, he represents the unbridled ambition of Europeans to rule and exploit the other peoples of the world. The alluded to previous wholesale burning of the island's native vegetation and dramazied burning of much of the island's sugarcane and laborer villages symbolizes the total disregard of most colonialists for the physical environment of these foreign lands and for the well being of native and imported laborers. I believe Walker's ultimate demise represents the ultimate withering of colonialism, despite its apparently unshakable entrenchment the world over. The brief interlude showing Walker brawling in a slum in Britian only makes sense if it is saying that most colonialists were basically degenerate bullies, whether at home or abroad.
We can read further symbolism into the script, if we wish. Jose Doloris and the other rebels might be seen as representing those Negroes and their white supporters in the US who had recently fought and sometimes died to achieve true racial equality. Ditto for similar events in other countries. We might also see the Portuguese as stand ins for the French and the British as representing the US in the Vietnam situation, current when this film was made. The changing relationship between Walker and Doloris might be seen as symbolic of a similar change between the US and China during WWII vs. afterward, for example. A more recent example is the change in relationship between the US and Sadam Hussein.
I don't like Brando's general arrogant demeanor, nor do I like the his slovenly speaking style. Perhaps these were appropriate for this film.
The initial slave revolt, their transformation into free laborers and their subsequent realization that there was little practical difference between their former and present status was treated far too superficially to be satisfying to the viewer. Perhaps there was more about this in the 20 min longer version of this film. The person who played Doloris was not a professional actor and appears to lack the charisma that a successful rebel leader would need. I did enjoy the scenes of native festivals and village life, although they were sometimes too long.
You may have noticed that my name is William Walker, which is the initial reason I chose to see this film. I own a biography of "the" William Walker, written by Albert Carr. I understand another film was made: "Walker", which also alludes to the imperialist dreams of this facinating man. Unfortunately, this again was not a serious attempt to chronicle the real story of Walker, but was rather a political satire, relating to the then involvement of the US in the political struggles within Nicaragua as a follow up on Walker's long ago meddling in the politics of this country. Apparently, it portrays the critical relationship between Walker and Cornelius Vanderbilt as being the exact opposite of their true relationship! William Walker was a facinating enough man that his life deserves a straight treatment, without becoming a caricature of a message film.
4 people found this helpful
Patrick SelitrennyReviewed in the United States on July 4, 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars
Storytelling at its best, and Marlon too!!...
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Gillo Pontecorvo's epic tale of Brazilian slavery (as kindly performed by the portuguese...) is a little masterpiece in itself.

The story is well told and its crude details are shocking even by today's standards.

Marlon Brando plays a rich British tradesman who's doing business with local authorities. In the meanwhile, he slowly discovers the horrors and the agony of black slaves being handled as cattle or worse.

This movie deals with all the terrifying facets of slavery and its evil and nefandous effects on human beings, never forgetting to mention the great hypocrisy with which white handlers treated such phenomenon.

I am still waiting to finally watch the "entire" movie "as it was meant to be seen", ergo in widescreen.
Being there just the VHS edition, one loses out on many details the theatrical version had.

Many Brando's movies are still only to be seen on VHS and not on DVD and one in particular, "On the Waterfront", is still only released in Full Screen instead of its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio.

His own movie "One-Eyed Jacks" has only been released by unknown labels, instead of receiving the royal treatment by a major studio.

Also, "The Appaloosa" has only appeared once in digital form, paired with "My Name is Nobody" (this alone should speak volumes for how much respect the studios in Hollywood have for one of the best actors that Tinsletown ever produced).
Since then nothing, just the VHS version.

Instead they preferred to release "The Countess of Hong Kong", which in my view, is one of the worst movies of Marlon Brando, not to speak of Charles Chaplin.

Insult upon insult, this may well be the revenge Hollywood is taking on his "rebel son", forgetting that if they still exist, the owe it, in the majority of cases to such "rebels" who, with their immense creativity have kept this monster alive.

Did Hollywood deserve them? Seeing how the studios work nowadays, I would say no. Once they are gone they are gone.
Pity. All the greats are almost all gone.
There are still a few left. Very few.
When they too are gone, who will take their place?

Don't tell me that Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise, or even Leonardo DiCaprio, will ever be able to stand a comparison to a Gregory Peck, Peter Ustinov, Henry Fonda, Richard Harris or Marlon Brando?

It would be the final insult to their memory and their impeccable work legacy they have left us with.

But then again, respect, as Robert Shaw playing Henry VIII in "A Man for All Seasons" correctly stated (courtesy of Robert Bolt), is like water in the desert and there are people, who follow anything that moves.

Let's finally honor such great men and women who left us so much in their lifetime and beyond, by finally releasing all their movies on DVD.

Forget the "Spidermen", the "Star Wars" (boring anyway) and many other comic strip based movies and let's go back to real literature and real storytelling.

We are not all morons out here after all.
There are still many people who are still used to read a good book. Anyway, many more than the bunch of bozos, who direct the movie studios nowadays and who seem to have an average cultural level of a babboon in love.
19 people found this helpful
C. CollinsReviewed in the United States on October 24, 2010
4.0 out of 5 stars
Age old story of colonialism and exploitation of the weak
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This is a fascinating film, especially for those interested in colonialism and the long period of domination of Latin America and the Caribbean by European powers. The interesting thing about this film is that it explores the economic aspects of colonialism rather than the military and has a nice twist of plot when national interests change. It is definitely anti-colonial and reveals how indigenous or slave populations may be manipulated and dominated for the interest of a distant European power. The film is very broad sweeping for a film of less than two hours. There must be a longer director's cut hidden somewhere which would be a major find considering that the film could easily have been a three hour epic. Rather than focus on an abstraction like "England" or "Spain" the film wisely focuses on a very anti-social subversive character, Sir William Walker, played brilliantly by Marlon Brando. We see the island of Queinado go through a slave rebellion and an overthrow of the colonial government by the rising middle class. Brando, as William Walker, plays off one side against the other all for the interest of first the English government and then the English sugar industry. The photography of the slave villages, ceremonies, uprisings and conflicts are superb. The 18th century slave trade was horrendous but this film focuses more on the daily struggles of the slave population and their considerable struggles once they become free and try to form some kind of government, advised by Sir William Walker but often the advice is poisonous. I was also impressed by the resistance from making William Walker a romantic figure with some romantic episodes with a slave woman. This pursuit of a romantic theme could have also been developed for the handsome Jose Dolores, the slave General, who eventually dominates the country. It is to the credit of the film makers that they resisted this formulaic approach and instead made a political film with realistic dynamics between colonial powers.
8 people found this helpful
WuchakReviewed in the United States on February 19, 2013
3.0 out of 5 stars
Worthwhile but un-involving
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Gillo Pontecorvo, the acclaimed director of 1966's "[[ASIN:B0002JP2OI The Battle of Algiers (The Criterion Collection)]]" released his next film "Queimada" -- aka "Burn!" -- three years later in 1969. "Burn!" stars Marlon Brando as William Walker, a British agent sent to a fictional Caribbean island, Queimada, to spark a revolution amongst the black slaves who work the sugar cane fields. But Walker isn't really interested in freedom for the slaves, he just wants to procure the sugar trade for England. It doesn't take long for the freed slaves, led by Jose Dolores (Evaristo Márquez), to realize that their freedom is in name only. The film's called "Burn!" because fire is the European's preferred method of putting down slave insurrections, as in burning the whole freakin' island if necessary!

Shot in beautiful Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia, "Burn!" explores the nature of imperialism and insurrection. Add the most captivating actor in history and Ennio Morricone's memorable score and you have what should be a great film. While it is an impressive and unique film like "[[ASIN:6305972761 Aguirre, the Wrath of God]]", and had potential to be spoken in the same breath as "[[ASIN:6305609705 Apocalypse Now]]", this unfortunately isn't the case. "Burn!" is certainly educational and somewhat compelling in the second half, but it lacks flow and characterization. As a result, the viewer doesn't know the characters and therefore isn't drawn into their story.

I've watched "Burn!" three times now and it's left me with the same feeling each time: It's worthwhile, but don't expect to be entertained or to care about the characters and their story. Brando cited "Burn!" as one of his best performances, but his portrayal of Walker is actually unmoving because he's never fleshed out as a human being, not to mention his lack of character becomes clearer as the film progresses.

The film runs 112 minutes, which is the version originally released in the USA in 1969, but there's supposed to be a restored version that runs 132 minutes. I doubt the extra 20 minutes can turn such an un-involving film into an engrossing one, but I'd be interested in seeing it some day.

GRADE: C+
Todd M.Reviewed in the United States on March 26, 2022
2.0 out of 5 stars
Being a Brando fan helps a lot.
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It looks like a spaghetti Caribbean movie with a lot of dubbing for the indigenous population. The only way to make Brando seem more white would be to put him in a white suit and hat… oh, that’s what they did do! Though I liked him in The Godfather and Apocalypse Now he just seems to strut around in this one and it and the exploitation wear thin fast.
Bruce HobsonReviewed in the United States on April 23, 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars
A wrenching history of 18th century Caribbean struggle
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Burn! was one of the most discussed films amongst progressive film critics and revolutionary activists of the 1970s and was considered by many  one of the most important anti-colonial films made. After "Battle of Algiers" (1966) left the world with a thirst for more of Pontecorvo's brilliance, Burn! carried his art to a higher level. In this panoramic film of rebellion in an 18th century Caribbean setting, the lives of the Black masses and the development of revolutionary anti-colonialism are portrayed directly and honestly. Brando plays with flair as the brilliant opportunist hired by the British military to "provoke" struggle against the Portuguese on the island, and it is clear that he took the role with political relish. Burn! remains one of the most beautiful and wrenching dramatizations of the struggle of an oppressed people in the so-called New World and its original impact is not diminished; anyone interested in fine film and issues of social justice should not miss this last work of Pontecorvo. See it and think about our world today.
31 people found this helpful
Das KickerbootReviewed in the United States on December 27, 2012
3.0 out of 5 stars
A flawed but intelligent film
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This film is the USA edit, and there are many flaws. The sound is not great, and it obviously had the dialog dubbed over in most scenes. Much of the photography is grainy, and the interior scenes have the bad lighting that was common in the sixties films. The editing is jerky and inconsistent in many places, and the story is very long. However, if you are mature enough to appreciate the political allegories in this film (allegories to Vietnam, Haiti, and other colonization countries), you will appreciate the dry humor and irony of this film.
I also saw the Italian directors cut, which is a bit longer, and makes more sense, and has a better story flow. Unfortunately, the Italian version has Brando's voice dubbed over by an Italian actor speaking Italian! So ideally, it would be nice to see the original (long) English language version of this film on disc, but that may not be possible , as the sound recordings may have been lost for the delete scenes. Brando gives a very sly performance, sometimes a little foppish, but he knows how to turn on the anger when he has to. He looks great, and it's amazing to see him play this part, one his best parts every, even though he's speaking in a British accent.
2 people found this helpful
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