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4.1
152 Ratings

Benilde or the Virgin Mother

Benilde ou a Virgem Mãe

Directed by Manoel de Oliveira
Portugal, 1975
Drama

Synopsis

Benilde, a girl brought up in a very religious environment, is kept by her father on a remote farm, away from the world. On examination by a doctor, she is found to be pregnant. Her aunt blames some passing vagabond, but Benilde claims divine interference.

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Benilde or the Virgin Mother Directed by Manoel de Oliveira

Critics reviews

A terrifying scene near the beginning of the film shows priest and doctor gossiping about Benilde’s condition, only for the white figure of Benilde to slowly materialize in the background, accented by a sharp change in music. Though it never goes into full surrealism, scenes like this would come to dominate de Oliviera’s career.
February 25, 2016
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Benilde is a whole other, staggering thing. Where Past and Present feints in the direction of something like naturalism, using standard adaptation devices to render itself less “stagy” (mid-conversation cuts to different settings etc.), Benilde basically takes José Régio’s play as gospel… Anyone who was raised under too protectively sheltered circumstances will get Benilde on a visceral level.
February 23, 2016
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A film that caused a scandal when it was released in Portugal, Benilde focuses on a young upper-class virgin who becomes mysteriously pregnant, having been, by her own testimony, impregnated by an angel of God. The film neither contradicts nor confirms her claim, and the fascinating use of offscreen sound makes the ambiguity even more vibrant. It’s a film I cherish for its sensuality and its erotic mystery.
October 01, 2003
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