Aged 13, Maria Noronha, daughter of Madalena de Vilhena and of Manuel de Sousa Coutinho, is an extremely pale and fragile girl, sick with high fevers and violent hemoptyses provoked by merciless tuberculosis. In order to alleviate her suffering, she gathers poppies from her garden, always carries them in her arms, and at night lays them on the pillows on her bed. But the poppies have a devastating effect. Her deep sleep is disturbed by terrible ghosts and hallucinations: the luxury and decadence of the Portuguese XVII century, the counter attack by the Jesuits and the terrible Inquisition, the madness and chastity of the king, the plague, the blood and the sperm, the violating of tombs, a disastrous and fatal battle… All that is left are ghosts. –inbaseline
João Botelho is the Portuguese filmmaker of memory, whose films seek to transform the physical into the metaphysical and to render ideas and poetry physical. His work is based on the word, a creative approach that is almost more poetic than cinematographic and which was already demonstrated in his debut feature, Conversa Acabada (1982), a conversation between two great Portuguese writers, Fernando Pessoa and Mário de Sá-Carneiro, that could be defined as an epistolary framework for an examination of what is articulated through different times and fashions: a conversation that is anything but ‘finished’ (‘acabada’).
His subsequent films include Hard Times (1987) and Aqui na Terra (1993), for which he wrote the screenplay. In 1999 he was in the Venice Film Festival with Se a Memória Existe which received a good critical reception. He returned to Venice with Quem és Tu? (2001) from a novel by Almeida Garrett called Frei Louis de Sousa, and in… read more