The concept of A Noite do Espantalho (The Night of the Scarecrow) was developed shortly before the promulgation of the repressive AI-5 decreed by the military regime in December 1968. Fearing the strong censorship that ensued, Sérgio Ricardo decided to postpone the project, restarting it in 1973. Featuring Alceu Valença (then a newcomer) in the title role, The Night of the Scarecrow tells the story of a poor rural community in Northeastern Brazil who are exploited by a local authority. It is told in striking fashion, through the vibrant colors of the costumes and sets, which include the largest open-air theatre in the world, Nova Jerusalém, located around Brejo da Madre de Deus, Pernambuco. The songs, dialogue and overall style of the film are largely influenced by cordel literature, that unique, imaginative form of poetry typical of the Northeast, making this one of the most original musicals ever to grace the screen.