For his feature debut Monteiro creatively borrowed from traditional Portuguese legends to craft a series of echoing, parallel tales of young couples desperately escaping cruel false fathers, each couple on the run across different regions of the country and during increasingly contemporary time periods. A lyrical and profoundly cinematographic allegory with a glisteningly sharp political edge, Veredas traces a pattern of cruelly repressive authority across Portuguese history while also pointing, with cautious optimism, towards the steady presence of youthful resistance. With its stunning choreography of landscape and use of a poetic, associative structure to evoke the longue durée of mythical time, Veredas anticipates Monteiro’s mid-career masterpiece Silvestre. —BAM
João César Monteiro (1939-2003) was born in Figueira da Foz, a cosmopolitan beach resort in Portugal and moved to Lisbon at the age of 15 where he continued his studies.
João César Monteiro remains among the most indelible and unusual figures in the history of Portuguese cinema, a visionary and profoundly eccentric filmmaker whose unique contribution to postwar European film is only gradually being recognized today. A cosmopolite imagination tethered by a provincial attachment to Lisbon, a libertine with an obscurely puritanical streak, an unrelenting aesthete guided by an archaic spirit – Monteiro was a deliberately contradictory and difficult artist who obdurately resisted affiliation with any declared “school” of filmmaking. Monteiro dedicated himself instead to a mode of sublimely, and often perversely, high modernism fascinated by a rich undercurrent between the cinema and the other arts – especially poetry, painting, theater, literature and music. Like the films of his… read more
Not just a film about a particular culture, but a preservation of that culture--itself a part of the oral tradition it partly examines. Brilliant.
The most extraordinary thing I've seen in ages! What initially begins as something rather small and intimate eventually grows and transforms into the largest tapestry of tales and legends; each presented through some of the most beautiful cinematic compositions ever seen. I can't really express it in words. Just one of those films that need to be experienced and then thought about, quietly, over a period of days.