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Portugal, land of my dreams

by Kenji
Portugal, land of my dreams by Kenji
The image above is of beloved Caminha in North Portugal, looking across the Minho estuary from Galicia, Spain. Click on Read More and then the other greens which appear. here for starters. Oh Portugal, pais lindo e maravilhoso. Blessed land of warmth and beauty, in its people as well as climate and landscape! Land of discoverers and worthy of discovery. When in Portugal, like the poet Pessoa, tenho em mim todos os sonhos do mundo/ i have in me all the dreams of the world. O Patio das Cantigas/ The Courtyard of Ballads , popular and charming 1942 comedy*. The great director Manoel de Oliveira, a colossus of Portuguese cinema, was still… Read more

The image above is of beloved Caminha in North Portugal, looking across the Minho estuary from Galicia, Spain.

Click on Read More and then the other greens which appear.

here for starters.

Oh Portugal, pais lindo e maravilhoso. Blessed land of warmth and beauty, in its people as well as climate and landscape! Land of discoverers and worthy of discovery. When in Portugal, like the poet Pessoa, tenho em mim todos os sonhos do mundo/ i have in me all the dreams of the world.

O Patio das Cantigas/ The Courtyard of Ballads , popular and charming 1942 comedy*.

The great director Manoel de Oliveira, a colossus of Portuguese cinema, was still prolific up to his death aged 106, well into his 10th different decade of film-making! R.I.P.

Manoel de Oliveira was born in Porto, Portugal on December 11, 1908, to Francisco José de Oliveira and Cândida Ferreira Pinto. His family were wealthy industrialists and agricultural landowners. He attended school in Galicia, Spain and his goal, as a teenager, was to become an actor. He enrolled in Italian film-maker Rino Lupo’s acting school at age 20, but later changed his mind when he saw Walther Ruttmann’s documentary Berlin: Symphony of a City. This prompted him to direct his first film, also a documentary, titled Douro, Faina Fluvial (1931). He also has the distinction of having acted in the second Portuguese sound film, A Canção de Lisboa (1933).

His first feature film came much later, in 1942. Aniki-Bóbó, a portrait of Oporto’s street children, was a commercial failure when it opened, and its merit only came to be recognised over time. This drawback forced Manoel de Oliveira to abandon other film projects he was involved in, and to dedicate himself to running his family vineyard. He re-emerged onto the film scene in 1956 with The Artist and the City, a work that marked a turning point in Oliveira’s conception of the cinema.

In 1963, O Acto de Primavera (The Rite of Spring), a documentary depicting an annual passion play, marked a turning point for his career. This was shortly followed by A caça (The Hunt), a grim feature film that contrasted with the happy tones of his previous documentary. Despite the widespread acclaim garnered by both films, he would not return to the director’s seat until the 1970s. Since 1990 (when he turned 82), he has made at least one film each year. His film, Christopher Columbus – the Enigma (2007), was shot partly in New York.

Manoel de Oliveira has said that he directs movies for the sheer pleasure of it, regardless of critical reaction. He maintains a quiet life away from the spotlights.

In 2008, Oliveira was awarded a doctorate degree honoris causa by the University of the Algarve. He has also been awarded the Order of St. James of the Sword by the President of Portugal. In addition, he has received multiple honours such as those of the Cannes, Venice and Montréal film festivals. He has been awarded two Career Golden Lions, in 1985 and 2004, and a Golden Palm for his lifetime achievements in 2008.

Manoel de Oliveira married Maria Isabel Brandão de Meneses de Almeida Carvalhais in Porto on December 4, 1940. They have two children: Manuel Casimiro Brandão Carvalhais de Oliveira (born 1941) and Adelaide Maria Brandão Carvalhais de Oliveira (born 1948). He has several grandchildren through his daughter Adelaide.

He was not only a film director. He also competed as a race car driver in his younger days. In the 1937 Grand Prix season he competed in and won the International Estoril Circuit race, driving a Ford V8 Special.

Manoel de Oliveira was chosen to give the welcoming speech at Pope Benedict XVI’s meeting with representatives of the Portuguese cultural world on 12 May 2010 at the Belém Cultural Center. In the speech, titled “Religion and Art”, he said that morality and art may well have derived from the religious attempt at “a explanation of the existence of human beings” with regard to their “concrete insertion in the Cosmos”. The arts “have always been strictly linked to religions” and Christianity has been “prodigal in artistic expressions”. In an interview published the day before, Oliveira, who was raised a Catholic, said that, “doubts or not, the religious aspect of life has always accompanied me,” and added, “All my films are religious.”
(wikipedia)

Leonor Silveira in Oliveira’s beautiful, and for me life-changing, masterpiece Abraham Valley.

~

Another top director, João César Monteiro .

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 compatriot Manoel de Oliveira (b. 1908), Monteiro’s cinema was also animated by an alternately cryptic and trenchant political agenda that took frequent target at the holy trinity of Church, State and Family still firmly entrenched after the fall of the Salazar dictatorship. In such seminal early works as Paths and Silvestre, Monteiro treated obscure Portuguese myths and legends as Rosetta stones for understanding the darkest shadows of the national unconscious and suggesting the ways in which the country’s imperialist and patriarchal legacies continue to shape its citizens. In opulent late works like God’s Comedy and Come and Go, Monteiro channeled his lasting preoccupation with corporality and perverse sexuality into a sustained interrogation of individual agency and collective desire.

Raised in a devoutly Catholic family yet an avowed atheist as an adult, in many of his late films Monteiro cast himself in the recurrent leading role of “Joao do Deus”- named after the Portuguese-born patron saint of prostitutes, the infirm and fishermen but a wholly secular figure, a perverse Buster Keaton-like dreamer drawn to young women and possessed of a patient defiance of the established social order. A curious religious logic also guided the development of Monteiro’s extraordinary visual style, which moved from the radical mise-en-scene of the early work towards an increasing austerity shaped, above all, by Monteiro’s proclaimed distrust of artificial light – which reached its apotheosis in Snow White – and his desire to capture the effulgent mystery of sunlight and its shadows.

His work, polemic and hard to classify, has a lyric quality that some identify as “film-poem”, however his work is often satirical and cynical. He plays the principal character in many of his films. His work has been the subject of study by Portuguese and international critics and
academicians, and he is recognized, along with Manoel de Oliveira, as a giant of Portuguese cinema
(Harvard Film Archive)

Monteiro won Mubi’s 2nd Directors Cup!

~

This list is in year order (or will be fully when a glitch is sorted), including some set in Portugal by non-Portuguese directors too. .

My favourites are: Abraham Valley and Aniki Bobo, by Oliveira, and also Mysteries of Lisbon, Silvestre, Tabu, The Satin Slipper, The Green Years, Blood, Our Beloved Month of August, Foreign Land, Veredas/Trails, Recollections of the Yellow House, Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl, O Patio das Cantigas.

Hats off to the extraordinary prolific late Chilean director Raul Ruiz, who though mainly based in France seems to have made Portugal something of a cinematic second or third home. As i am not (yet) Portuguese- at least officially if not in spirit- i have barely scratched the surface of the country’s full cinematic and cultural riches.

This list is now a selective not comprehensive one, since the many films originally listed were deleted by a mubi glitch.

~

Wikipedia CINEMA OF PORTUGAL

i see that Dinis Guarda, co-author with Nuno Figueiredo of Portugal: Um Retrato Cinematográfico/ Portugal: A Cinematographic Portrait is on Mubi.

Other lists
See also Kuxa Kanema (aka Cyclo X)‘s list on Monteiro, and Shakti’s list “O Fado” about that great form of music, the soul of Portugal. Monteiro is one of 3 directors covered in my list Groundhog Day Directors as he was born Feb 2. I’ve also done a list on Leonor Silveira, and Paintings of Spain and Portugal

Actress Maria de Medeiros , who directed Captains of April, about the 1974 Carnation Revolution.

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BEYOND FILMS

I cannot resist more pictures of this celestial country.

Peneda-Geres national park – with the lakes and mountains, a heavenly spot.

Pena palace, Sintra

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Then there’s the immortal national treasure, fado singer Amalia Rodrigues , here singing O Fado Portugues.

Ah, Amalia! Ela acaricia como a seda, banha como o luar e penetra como o relâmpago. She caresses like silk, bathes like moonlight and pierces like lightning.

and

Fernando Pessoa – MAR PORTUGUÊS

Ó mar salgado, quanto do teu sal
São lágrimas de Portugal!
Por te cruzarmos, quantas mães choraram,
Quantos filhos em vão rezaram!

Quantas noivas ficaram por casar
Para que fosses nosso, ó mar!
Valeu a pena? Tudo vale a pena
Se a alma não é pequena.

Quem quere passar além do Bojador
Tem que passar além da dor.
Deus ao mar o perigo e o abismo deu,
Mas nele é que espelhou o céu.

Oh salty sea, how much of your salt
Are tears of Portugal!
So we might cross you, how many mothers cried,
How many sons prayed in vain!

How many brides were never to marry
for you to be ours, oh sea!
Was it worth it? Everything is worthwhile
If the soul is not small.

Whoever wants to venture beyond Bojador
Must venture beyond suffering.
God gave the sea danger and deep abyss,
But on it He also mirrored the sky.

(my translation attempt)

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