Amor de perdição

Manoel de Oliveira

In the work of Manoel de Oliveira, Amor de perdição (1978), probably the most beautiful film in the history of Portuguese cinema, emerged after O Passado eo Presente and Benilde ou a Virgem Mãe, as the third part of “tetralogy of frustrated love”. Francisca in 1981 would complete this tetralogy. In fact, similar love affairs seem to have already existed on this continent (Aniki-Bobó) and others would follow (Os Canibais , The Letter, etc), but none had chosen (and no film since has dared choose) such a difficult path: reading a novel cinematically (and not by chance the most famous piece of Portuguese romantic literature) in an almost complete verbatim transcript of a text by Camilo Castelo Branco. How to find the equivalent of literature in cinema? A big production in the Portuguese context of the time, a real technical challenge, shot entirely in the studio in 16mm, with two unknown actors headlining, a big intramural critical embarrassment (its Portuguese release was a scandal) but also the film of the definitive consecration abroad of Oliveira, from then on considered one of the greatest directors in the world. Amor de perdição is the “monster” of the filmography, a film of inexhaustible wealth, the one that pushed furthest any relations of fidelity and betrayal possible between a film and a novel. Following the impossible love of Simão Botelho and Teresa de Albuquerque, from two feuding families, he takes us behind bars: those of prisons and convents, those of the social conventions of the time and of Camilo himself, who wrote this novel in two weeks while imprisoned. Yet Amor de Perdição is one of the few films capable of releasing the word from its literary function in order to give it another that is contradictory, choral and hypnotic, in a film in which “time is the material itself,” in the words of Serge Daney in the pages of Cahiers du Cinema in June 1979. This defence, for Oliveira, who was then a boy of 70, would be nothing less than a matter of life or death. (FF)

Technical sheet


Portugal, 1978, Colour, 16mm, Mono, 261’

Original version : portuguese
Script : Manoel de Oliveira from the novel by Camilo Casltelo Branco
Photography : Manuel Costa e Silva
Editing : Solveig Norlund
Music : João Paes, Haendel Sonate op. 5
Sound : João Diogo, Carlos Alberto Lopes
Casting : Antonio Sequeira Lopes, Cristina Hauser, Elsa Wellencamp

Production : Paulo Branco, Instituto Português de Cinema et Centro Português de Cinema, Cinequipa, Radiotelevisão Portuguesa, Tobis Portuguesa