Not many Latin films have had as much of a broad impact as the 1998 film, Central do Brasil (Central Station). Like many of the other Brazilian films that have become very popular in America and across the world, this film is one that deals with important social themes. In a way, these films do their job to shed a light on problems that are happening in Latin America by providing a context to people who don’t live there. While some stories deal with the issues of crime, drugs, and gang culture, this one chooses to focus its attention on the problem of education in Brazil.
The story is centered upon a woman who works in the Central Station in Rio de Janeiro. As anyone who has been in that station can attest, there are lots of different people who pass through. This provides ample opportunity for this woman to make her mark on a lot of those folks, especially people who do not have the education that they need. The woman chooses to interact with the mostly illiterate people who pass through the train station, even though she does not seem to have any respect for the way that they live. Her letters provide not only a connection with those characters, but they take the audience to certain situations that they might not have otherwise had an opportunity to understand.
The woman who works at the station is named Dora and she is a school teacher by trade, so she has a desire to reach out to not only those people who cannot read or write, but also to children who are so desperately in need of an education. She wants to help them communicate with those people who they need to reach, so she spends her time writing for people. One woman uses Dora to communicate with her husband and in that, the woman is able to allow her son to have some sort of relationship with the father. The story takes a nasty twist when the woman is killed in a car accident, though, so the boy has no way to reach his father anymore. This is when Dora takes this 9-year old boy on a life-changing journey to meet the father that he has never had. In this, the story emphasizes the importance of not only education, but of trying to connect with a family type of atmosphere. That was very important to Dora, which is why she sacrificed so much to take the boy to find the man.
The trip to find the father is where the audience really gets to meet both characters. The little boy has lost his mother, so Dora does her best to make sure that he has a loving environment. It is an interesting situation that provides some context for the world in which they live. Rio de Janeiro has opportunity, but there are many broken homes. This is one very encouraging story where two people go above and beyond the call to put a family back together.
This film is one take on education and upbringing in this part of Brazil. While some Latin American movies have made the choice to focus on the death and destruction that happens in some communities, this one focuses on a good story of people who find help where they might not expect it.