Pantanal (TV series)

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Pantanal-Main title.jpg
Main title card
Genre Telenovela
Created by Benedito Ruy Barbosa
Written by Benedito Ruy Barbosa
Directed by Jayme Monjardim
Carlos Magalhães
Marcelo de Barreto
and Roberto Naar
Starring Cláudio Marzo
Cristiana Oliveira
Marcos Winter
Jussara Freire
Marcos Palmeira
Paulo Gorgulho
Nathália Timberg
Rômulo Arantes
Cássia Kiss
among others
Country of origin Brazil
No. of episodes 216[1]
Original network Rede Manchete
Original release March 27 – December 10, 1990

Pantanal is a Brazilian telenovela which originally aired from March 27, 1990 to December 10, 1990 at 9 P.M. on Rede Manchete.[1] SBT recently re-aired the telenovela from June 9, 2008 to January 13, 2009. It was set on the Pantanal region.

Pantanal is one of the best known ecological or environmental telenovela, a small sub-category of the genre whose purpose is to dramatize, and hence raise audience awareness of environmental degradation.[2] It was written by Benedito Ruy Barbosa and directed by Jayme Monjardim, Carlos Magalhães, Marcelo de Barreto, and Roberto Naar.[1]


Pantanal brings to the screen a visually lush and enticing product in which traditional telenovela storylines and plot-devices are wed with cinematic audiovisual techniques that make the production look more like a movie than a television program. It is this visual appeal, coupled with the introduction of female frontal nudity to Brazilian prime-time television that allowed TV-Manchete to dominate the audience share in this prime-time slot for the first time, overcoming perpetual ratings leader TV-Globo.[3]

While the unusual storyline, special effects and erotic nature of the novela certainly attracts the attention of viewers, it is the location that truly makes this production stand out in the crowded telenovela line-up. Typically, the majority of telenovela productions are filmed indoors, in order to streamline production schedules and minimize costs. For example, TV-Globo’s scripts are habitually located in the cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo,[4] allowing them (as is common practice throughout the industry) to use stock exterior footage of the city to complement the majority of the scenes, which are filmed in large, closed sound stages. Therefore, Pantanal, novel in its outdoor, rural setting, may be even more interesting to urban novela audiences because it introduces them to a part of their country few are familiar with – the Pantanal region of the southwestern Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul.

The Pantanal region, whose name derives from the Portuguese word "pântano" (meaning "swamp” or "marsh"),[5] is a wetland, or alluvial plain, that covers parts of central-western Brazil, eastern Bolivia and eastern Paraguay. Eighty per cent of the wetland’s total area is in Brazil, where it occupies more than 140,000 km².[6] It is frequently referred to as one of the largest freshwater wetland ecosystems in the world.[7] As part of the Paraguay floodplain, it is a depository for seasonal floodwaters from the Paraguay River and its surrounding tributaries (such as the Sao Lourenço, Cuiaba, Taquari, Miranda, Negro and Aquidauana).[6] The region has been called "an ecological paradise" and "an unparalleled wildlife sanctuary of spectacular beauty,"[7] and has been compared to the Amazon rainforest in its density and its variety of flora and fauna.[8] It is one of the most densely packed hydrological eco-systems in the world; home to thousands of bird, butterfly, insect, fish, plant, reptile, and mammal species. Anaconda and caiman, tapir and giant river otter, toucan and macaw, among others, all make their home in the Pantanal – as does the jaguar.[7] It is the nature of this region that provides the setting for Pantanal; a world that is home to river spirits who communicate with the human inhabitants and Juma Marruá, a beautiful young jaguar-woman who falls in love with Jovenito, an urbanite who returns to his birthplace to reconnect with his father and his roots in the land.

Pantanal's producer (Nilton Travesso), author (Benedito Ruy Barbosa) and directors (Jayme Monjardim), Marcelo Barreto, Carlos Magalhães, and Roberto Naar)[1] use cinematic special effects to create a fantastic world in which they use the metamorphoses of a beautiful young woman into a jaguar (and then back into a woman again) as a plot-device. They also take advantage of the exotic locale to introduce a storyline that includes nudity and a more explicitly erotic style than had been seen in the genre before this point. This turned the up-and-coming Rio de Janeiro-born actress Cristiana Oliveira, who portrays jaguar-woman Juma Marruá, into a nationally recognized figure practically overnight and made Pantanal the most talked about program in Brazil.[4]

While Pantanal can be categorized as an "erotic" telenovela or a "supernatural" telenovela, it is as an ecological telenovela that its message still resounds more than fifteen years after it was first aired.

In recent years, the ecology of the Paraguay River and the entire Pantanal Region has been threatened by plans to dredge the river and develop it as a waterway for commercial shipping. Pantanal, the telenovela, may serve to illustrate what would be lost forever if that were to happen.

Main cast


Pantanal made history after it became the first telenovela since the closure of Rede Tupi in 1980, to top Brazilian audience ratings. Its success was so elevated that Rede Globo extended the timeslot of the 8 p.m. telenovela Rainha da Sucata and created a telenovela (Araponga) for the 10 P.M. timeslot, cancelling acclaimed shows like sketch comedy TV Pirata. The unexpected success of Pantanal put Rede Manchete on the roll of top telenovela producers in Latin America. Nevertheless, Rede Manchete would never achieve the same success with any other of its telenovelas.[9]

Eighteen years after its original success, Pantanal once again beat Globo on the ratings. The episode aired on July 3, 2008 by SBT spent 16 minutes on the leadership on the Greater São Paulo area.[10]

Cultural references

Because of its success, Pantanal footage is shown on the Simon Hartog documentary Beyond Citizen Kane, aired on United Kingdom's Channel 4. The documentary is a critical piece on Rede Globo.


  1. ^ a b c d Pantanal (1990) -
  2. ^ Caesar, Terry; Eva Bueno (1998). Imagination Beyond Nation: Latin American Popular Culture. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. Introduction. ISBN 0-8229-4085-X.
  3. ^[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ a b Article on Pantanal - May 9, 1990 (Portuguese language).
  5. ^ Yahoo!
  6. ^ a b UNEP-WCMC Protected Areas Programme - The Pantanal Conservation Complex
  7. ^ a b c Waterland research Institute: The Pantanal -
  8. ^ "A Brazilian Wetland, Burgeoning With Wildlife". The New York Times. March 2, 1997. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  9. ^[permanent dead link]
  10. ^[permanent dead link]

External links

  • Pantanal on IMDb
  • Waterland research Institute: The Pantanal -
  • Pantanal opening credits
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