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A Escrava Isaura (Isaura the Slave) is a 2004 Brazilian telenovela based on A Escrava Isaura, an 1875 abolitionist romance novel by Bernardo Guimarães. The series tells the story of a coffee-plantation owner's passion for one of his slaves. Herval Rossano directed both this and the 1976 version.
Rede Record, run by televangelist Edir Macedo , produced this expanded remake of a serial that aired in 1976 on Rede Globo. The series drew high ratings among Brazilian viewers and was expanded from 100 to 167 episodes. It has been syndicated worldwide. It airs in Europe and the Middle East on Zone Romantica.
This melodrama focuses on the conflict between the beautiful light-skinned slave girl Isaura (Bianca Rinaldi) and her cruel, lecherous master Leoncio (Pacheco) in 1875 Brazil. The heroine is the 20-year-old daughter of a white father and a mulatto mother. She was born and raised on the coffee plantation of Commander Almeida (Rubens de Falco) in the village of Goitacaces. When Juliana, Isaura's mother (Valquiria Ribeiro), dies shortly after giving birth, Gertrudes (Norma Blum), the Commander's wife, treats the child as her own daughter, giving her an education and fine manners.
Isaura is also devoutly religious; she prays often, avoids the witchcraft practiced by some other slaves and often wears a prominent cross around her neck. Her father, a free laborer, repeatedly begs for the girl’s freedom and makes offer after offer to buy her from the Commander. Despite promises to set her free one day, every offer is rejected. Isaura remains a slave because she is a slave's daughter -- and freedom always seems to be just beyond her reach. When Commander realizes his fault, it is too late.
In 1854, when Isaura is a young adult, the Commander’s stupid, degenerate son Leôncio returns to the fazenda after piling up enormous debts. He soon marries Malvina (Ribeiro), daughter of Colonel Sebastiao (Paulo Figueiredo). Nevertheless, he develops a dangerous fixation with Isaura and determines to make her his mistress.
The Commander and Gertrudes protect Isaura from Leôncio for a while, but they both become ill and pass away before setting her free. The sweet young woman winds up at the mercy of an obsessed, depraved man, fighting to maintain her dignity and integrity. As Isaura desperately struggles to keep her dreams alive, she discovers true love for the first time.