Portuguese Cinema

Nelson Pereira dos Santos by Darlene J. Sadlier

With Nelson Pereira dos Santos’s body of work deeply rooted in an aesthetic as well as political and social consciousness, it is not surprising that Darlene J. Sadlier analyzes the trajectory of dos Santos’s cinema through a similar paradigmatic approach of integrating film form with historical context. Brought up in a middle-class, cinephile household in… read more »

Quem és tu?, 2001

Something of a companion piece to Manoel de Oliveira’s No, or the Vain Glory of Command, João Botelho’s brooding and atmospheric Quem és tu? similarly explores the intersection of history and myth, empire and subjugation in its exposition on identity, nationhood, fate, and repression. Based on nineteenth century Romanticist author Almeida Garrett’s three-act play, Frei… read more »

Tarrafal, 2007

In an episode that occurs halfway through Tarrafal, Cape Verdean immigrant José Alberto, having just received his expulsion notice, encounters the elderly, displaced Fonthainas resident Ventura waiting on the side of a dirt road as his friend, Alfredo tries in vain to catch rabbits by thrashing random bushes with a wooden club. In a way,… read more »

Colossal Youth, 2006

On a derelict building illuminated by the crepuscular glow of a night sky, assorted pieces of furniture and household goods are intermittently discarded from upper level windows, crashing into the razed ruins below. A woman emerges from the shadows, brandishes a small kitchen knife, and recounts her fragmented tale before disappearing, once again, into the… read more »

Casa de Lava, 1995

The real-life eruption of the Pico volcano in the island of Fogo and the outbreak of cholera in the Cape Verde Islands provide a dense and ingeniously metaphoric contemporary backdrop to Pedro Costa’s exposition on isolation, entrapment, moral inertia, and longing in Casa de Lava. Once an uninhabited Portuguese colony situated off the coast of… read more »

O Sangue, 1989

Perhaps the most overtly Bressonian of Pedro Costa’s body of work (albeit suffused with the brooding shadows of a Jacques Tourneur film), Costa’s first feature, O Sangue, nevertheless bears the characteristic imprint of what would prove to be his familiar preoccupations: absent parents, surrogate families, unreconciled ghosts, the trauma and violence of displacement, the ache… read more »

Voyage to the Beginning of the World, 2004

On the overgrown grounds of an abandoned and dilapidated health resort ironically called The Grand Hotel of Pezo on the outskirts of the Portuguese town, the aging filmmaker, Manoel (Marcello Mastroianni) recounts a familiar tale by a Brazilian author named Catulo Searence of a poet living in a hut overlooking the river who would diligently… read more »

Abraham’s Valley, 1993

A genial country doctor, Carlo Paiva (Luís Miguel Cintra) strikes up a polite conversation with a privileged widower named Paulino Cardeano (Ruy de Carvalho) at a dining hall and is immediately captivated by the beguiling, almost forbidding presence of Cardeano’s mannered, but inscrutable adolescent daughter Ema (Cécile Sanz de Alba). But Carlo is neither the… read more »

No, or the Vain Glory of Command, 1990

Inasmuch as Manoel de Oliveira’s films convey what Randal Johnson describes as a cinematic hybridity that illustrates the amorphous nature of representation, No, or the Vain Glory of Command also reflects a temporal hybridity, where time is presented as a conflation of seemingly arbitrary, but integrally connected history. Opening to a long take of a… read more »

Acto da Primavera, 1963

In Le Quattro volte, Michelangelo Frammartino uses the staging of the Passion Play by the local villagers to bridge the ancient and the modern. This dialectic also provides the connective tissue in the Views from the Avant-Garde program, Station to Station, capturing the ancient tale as it unfolds in the streets of New York City… read more »

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