One of the most beautiful films ever made about aging. Voyage To The Beginning Of The World brings together 90-year-old Portuguese filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira and Italian icon Marcello Mastroianni, in what would be his last film. Playing a filmmaker clearly based on Oliveira, Mastroianni takes three actor friends on a driving tour of a mountain village, where one of the actors (Jean-Yves Gautier) is united with the elderly aunt he has never met.
Family becomes the link between the past and present, in a film of great simplicity, dignity and wisdom. Through Mastroianni, Oliveira speculates on beginnings and endings. The village is in the north (where the Portuguese nation began) on what remains of the past (a primitive wooden statue, the meaning of which has been lost) and on what disappears (the ruins of a hotel). The cinematography, by Renato Berta, is at once radiantly clear and surrealistically devoid of detail – as if what were seeing was already a recollection. (-Dave Kehr, NY Daily News – DVD Backcover) Continue reading
Manoel de Oliveira’s last (short) film.
In a city of the 21st century, Don Quichotte meets with the Portuguese poets Luis de Camoes, Teixeira de Pascoaes and Camilo Castelo Branco. Together they reflect about the art of writing, history, and the general vanity of human aspiration. Oliveira illustrates this with excerpts from some of his own films as well as Kozintsev’s 1957 “Don Quixote”. A beautiful, meditative film, and a fine conclusion to Oliveira’s career. Continue reading
Gebo (Lonsdale) is an elderly accountant who lives with his wife Doroteia (Cardinale) and his daughter-in-law Sofia (Silveira). Despite his advanced age and increasing fatigue, he continues to work to provide for his family. Doroteia is concerned for her son João (Trêpa), who has been missing for some time. Gebo and Sofia have some idea of João’s whereabouts, having spotted him begging and living in the streets. But Gebo, who doesn’t want to destroy Doroteia’s idealized version of her son, conceals the truth from her. When João returns to the family home, however, this falsehood proves to have disastrous consequences, as the prodigal son is unable to resist the temptation of a bag of money entrusted to Gebo’s keeping. Continue reading
The human condition is examined in this Portuguese French film with opens with a warning that informs the audience that the following is not a documentary but a moral tale about the anachronisms of modern society. The story, set in an aging neighborhood filled with interesting characters, focuses upon an old blind man and his daughter. Every day, the blind one sits in a doorway sells thread and begs. The daughter spends her days ironing and complaining. Their neighborhood is not a wealthy one, and many passerby are envious of the old beggars’ box of accumulated coins. It has been stolen before so the man and the daughter’s boyfriend keep an eye upon it. Tragedy ensues when the box does indeed disappear. Continue reading
Social class, prideful martyrdom, and a dollop of beautifully expansive landscape weave a tale of operatic proportions, both by plot and physically exhaustive standards, in veteran Manoel de Oliveira’s latest exploration of motivation. Marrying for money instead of childhood love, Camila (Leonor Baldaque) naïvely assumes the supposed epic and selfless attributes of Joan of Arc to deal with her husband’s infidelity and the consistent treatment of being irrelevant to the very people that encouraged the doomed match. Continue reading
Description: In this symbolic and philosophically weighty film, all of the inhabitants of a Portuguese mental asylum suffer from religious delusions of one kind or another — even the cynic who denies the value of any religions at all. One couple re-enacts the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden, and then the woman who played at being Eve plays at being St. Teresa de Avila. Another man thinks he’s a character from a Dostoyevsky novel, and yet another claims to have in his possession a fifth gospel from the Bible. Everyone has a point of view and is not shy about stating it, defending it in debate with the others with great sincerity, though (the reviewers claimed) with very little elegance or wit. (Clarke Fountain)
What would’ve happened if Lazarus met Nietzsche? The man who raised from the deads and the man who killed God are but two faces of the same soul. Oliveira let the books talk about human greatness and misery.
If you are not interested in the theological debate, don’t waste your time here. But if you’re not interested, you’re already wasting your time. (Dionysis) Continue reading
Prolific Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira has cut down the 7-hour stage play of Catholic playwright Paul Claudel to just under three hours in this film. Within those three hours, two people — Dona Prouheze (Anne Consigny) and Don Rodigue (Luis Miguel Cintra) have fallen in love but are honor-bound to renounce their passion for a greater love of God. Dona Prouheze is particularly devout and has offered her satin slipper to the Virgin Mary in exchange for the Virgin’s protection against sin. She dies as virginal as when she was born, while Don Rodrigue conquers Asian lands for king and country. As his life progresses, he becomes more and more devoted to painting religious subjects on his ship, rebuffing the royal attempts to get him back into active duty. Slow and possibly tedious for some audiences, this film was originally created as a four-part miniseries for television. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, All Movie Guide Continue reading