Mário Peixoto

Mário Peixoto – or Mário Breves Peixoto , his complete name - was born on March 25th 1908 , the same birthday as his favorite director, David Lean. Place of birth is probably Brussels, Belgium, where his father studied Chemistry. He came from a rich family: his mother was a descendent of Commendator José de Souza Breves who was a great coffee grower and slave dealer in the imperial system and his father was a descendant of the Rodrigues Peixoto family, the sugar mil owners from the city of Campos . Mário studied at the Santo Antônio Maria Zaccaria School from 1917 until 1926, then he travelled to England where he attended the Hopedene College, in Willington (Sussex), near Eastbourne, from October 1926 up to August 1927.

Back in Brazil, he was introduced to Brutus Pedreira, who invited him to a theater group (Teatro de Brinquedo). He meets Sylvio and Raul Schnoor and later, their sister Eva as well as Adhemar Gonzaga and Pedro Lima. In 1928 the Chaplin Club is formed, a loose circle of friends debating the esthetics of cinema. One of the members is Octávio de Faria, Mário Peixoto's childhood friend and favorite interlocutor. Between 1928 and 1930 the Chaplin Club publishes a magazine called The Fan:

Mário returns to England in 1929, along with his father, impelled by a strong desire to see latest movie productions and visiting London and Paris. According to Mário Peixoto, the following photo by André Kertesz, published in the 74th edition of French magazine VU.

which he sees on a walk through Paris, gives rise to his film Limite and inspires him to write that same night a first outline for the movie. On returning to Brazil in October 1929, Mário Peixoto makes contact with the local artistic scene, possibly assists in the making of two local film productions, Lábios Sem Beijos and Saudade. He also meets actress Carmen Santos and cameraman Edgar Brazil. Peixoto offers the scenario to the directors Adhemar Gonzaga and Humberto Mauro but both advise him to shoot the film himself. On may 17th 1931 Limite has its première at the Cinema Capitólio in Rio de Janeiro but despite Adhemar Gonzaga's efforts does not make it into commercial circuits.
At the same time Mário begins to shoot Onde A Terra Acaba, an expensive and ambitious production financed by Carmen Santos, also the leading actress; she had made a brief appearance in Limite as a prostitute and hoped to gain higher artistic recognition under Peixoto’s direction. But due to personal quarrels this together with all other efforts to finish a second film – there were several serious attempts up until the mid 80s - fails and Limite remains the only film ever completed by Mário Peixoto.
Among the unfinished projects one finds titles as Constância (1936) or Maré Baixa, also known as Mormaço. In 1937 Mário writes the scenario for Tiradentes, on request of Carmen Santos, with whom he had reconciled in 1934 but Carmen does not use it and the text vanishes. In 1938, Mário Peixoto tries to produce Três Contra o Mundo. In 1946, Mário Peixoto, together with Carmen Santos and Afonso Campiglia, decides to restart filming Onde A Terra Acaba as a talking movie. But the project is canceled. Probably in 1947, he writes for Carmen Santos the script of O ABC de Castro Alves, based on a text by Jorge Amado but the film itself is not produced. Carmen keeps the script and it disappears. In the following year, 1948, Rui Santos and Afonso Campiglia announce two films: Sargaço by Mário Peixoto and Muiraquitã by Jonald, a film critic for the magazine A Noite. Soon afterwards they declare that those films would be replaced by Estrela da Manhã with a script by Jorge Amado, photography by Rui Santos and direction by Jonald. But Sargaço does not go into production and Mário changes the script into A alma segundo Salustre, another unfinished project. In 1964 he writes, together with Saulo Pereira de Mello, the scenario for Outono /O jardim petrificado, based vaguely on a text by Machado de Assis called Missa do Galo. In 1966/67 Peixoto settles on the Sítio de Morçego, a property he gained from his father already in 1938.

decorates it with antiques and starts to rewrite a novel he had published back in the 30s: O inútil de cada um. Mário extends the rather short original version to a six volume, 2000 pages long literary universe with strong autobiographic traces and works on it obsessively almost until the end of his life. So far only the first volume has been published (1984).

Due to financial problems Peixoto is obliged to sell his property, moves into a hotel at Angra dos Reis and spends the last year of his life in a flat in Copacabana. Here one of his last photos, taken in 1991.

His film Limite turns into a landmark for the Brazilian cinema. In 1988, the Cinemateca Brasileira named it best Brazilian film of all time and in the same year Mário Peixoto was awarded with a special prize by the government of the State of Rio de Janeiro, as well as, one year later , with a pecuniary grant from the Fundação Vite for him to complete the remaining volumes of O Inútil de Cada Um. In 1991, in an extremely weak financial situation, he fell ill and was generously assisted by Walter Salles.
Mário Peixoto dies on February 2, 1992 and is buried in the cemetery of São Jão Batista, Rio de Janeiro. In 1995 Limite is once again considered the best Brazilian film of all time in a national inquiry held by the newspaper Folha de São Paulo and in 1996 Walter Salles founds the Mário Peixoto Archives located in his firm videofilmes in Rio de Janeiro where Saulo Pereira de Mello – one of the restores of Limite and friend of Mário Peixoto - takes care of the original manuscripts and objects from the film. He also edits publications by and on Peixoto. Onde a terra acaba (At the edge of the earth), the title of one among Mário’s unfinished projects, is also the name of a documentary film on Mário from 2002, directed by Sérgio Machado.


Castro, Emil de. Jogos de armar. Rio de Janeiro: Lacerda, 2000.

Estudos sobre Limite de Mário Peixoto. Laboratório de Investigação Audiovisual-LIA da Universidade Federal Fluminense; CD-ROM (2000).

Mello, Saulo Pereira de. Limite. Rio de Janeiro: Rocco, 1996.

Mello, Saulo Pereira de. Mário Peixoto. Rio de Janeiro : Casa de Rui Barbosa, 1996.

Mello, Saulo Pereira de. Mário Peixoto - Escritos sobre cinema. Rio de Janeiro: aeroplano, 2000.

Peixoto, Mario. O inútil de cada um. Rio de Janeiro : Record, 1984.

Peixoto, Mário. Limite. “scenario” original. Rio de Janeiro: Sette Letras. 1996.

Peixoto, Mário. O inútil de cada um. Rio de Janeiro : Sette Letras, 1996. (reedição da versão de 1931, 153p.)

Peixoto, Mário. Mundéu. Rio de Janeiro: Sette Letras, 1996.

Peixoto, Mario e Mello, Saulo Pereira de. Outono – O jardim petrificado (scenario). Rio de Janeiro: aeroplano, 2000.

Peixoto, Mário. Poemas de permeio com o mar. Rio de Janeiro: Aeroplano, 2002.

Peixoto, Mário. seis contos e duas peças curtas. Rio de Janeiro: aeroplano, 2004.