A caça followed by Benilde ou a virgem mãe

Manoel de Oliveira

Programming means taking risks and, in the case of Manoel de Oliveira, risking one’s head. As one delves into this dense body of work, a thousand and one different ideas come to mind. Paradoxically, one could swear that there is no filmmaker more diffi cult or more exciting to programme, as each film opens to the world and is completed by itself. Oliveira himself said in a book of interviews with Jacques Parsi and Antoine de Baecque: “I have an ethical code for fi lm in general and for each fi lm in particular.” From these thousand and one ideas, that which designates A Caça as the harbinger of a future destiny in this work does not seem the most far out. Although prior to Acto da Primavera, A Caça was completed after it, but in the same year (1963), and is the only Oliveira fi lm inspired by a news item, about two boys, named José and Roberto by the fi lmmaker. One of them drowned in a swamp in front of the other who, scared to death, fl ed without helping. Acto da Primavera and A Caça were both hampered by the censorship of the time which even saw in the swamp the collapse of the fascist regime, imposing a happy ending on Oliveira in which Jose is saved. Through its “more symbolic than real” conception, underlined by a soundtrack of the utmost importance from the fi rst sequence (the attack on the henhouse by a fox) to the absurd human chain trying to save the boy at the end (“hand by hand!” shouts the one-armed man who lacks one), this is a fi lm in which, from one threat to another (the hunter’s gun, the statue of the eagle, Roberto’s father’s slaughterhouse), the ordinary and the fantastic overlap each other towards the same fate – where death circles relentlessly. In 1988, Oliveira re-edited this little masterpiece for the Pesaro Festival, giving it the denouement he had always wanted, but the 35mm prints that have been in circulation since also retain, as an epilogue, the ending imposed by the censor. In both cases there is the same final shot: a dog barking furiously at the camera. The censors did not recognize in this echo, the noise and the fury of his freedom. (FF)

Technical sheet


Portugal, 1975, Colour, 35mm, Mono, 112’

Original version : portuguese
Script : Manoel de Oliveira from the theater play by José Régio
Image : Elso Roque
Photography : Manoel de Oliveira
Casting : Maria Amelia Aranda, Jorge Rola, Gloria de Matos

Production : Tóbis Portuguesa et Centro Português de Cinema