Manoel de Oliveira

Portugal, 1956, Colour, 35mm, Mono, 27’

Original version : portuguese
Script, photography, editing : Manoel de Oliveira
Music : Rév. Luis Rodrigues, Rebelo Bonito, Orphéon de Porto,
dir Vergilio Pereira.
Sound : Joaquim Amaral, Alfredo Pimentel
Casting : Antonio Cruz
Production : Manoel de Oliveira

 followed by :

Paulo Rocha

Portugal, France, 1993, Colour, Vidéo, 60’

Original version : portuguese
Editing : Vitor Moreira
Music: Paulo Brandao
Casting : Manoel de Oliveira, João Bénard da Costa, Leonor Silveira
Production : Paulo Rocha

During the 1950s (a dark decade for Portuguese cinema), Oliveira crossed a great desert. Dozens of film projects, including a masterpiece that he would shoot 60 years later – Angelica – were rejected and remained in a drawer. Determined not to quit filmmaking, even if he had to do it alone, he left for Germany in 1955, undertook a photography internship at the Agfa laboratories in Leverkusen, followed by another in the factory that made Arrifl ex cameras, and bought equipment. The short film O Pintor ea Cidade, shot a year later, was his his first experience of colour and earned him his first international prize in Cork in Ireland. It is a film in total rupture with the past, following the work and the vision of the great Porto painter who specialized in watercolour, António Cruz (and again a film about Porto). The shots become longer, the framing more demanding, composed like a painting; the images are organized by the fl ow of sound, a duration that is renewed and spoken of in the second film presented in this session: this cinema moves away as ever, and forever, from the pure reproduction of reality, it is a “miracle” of modernity faced with its time (1956).
Oliveira – The Architect, is another visit and the only film in this programme not directed by Oliveira. The great Paulo Rocha, who is also from Porto, directed it for the series “Filmmakers Of Our Time” in 1993, when Oliveira was in the middle of launching the shooting of Vale Abraão. Oliveira speaks a little about it, at the entrance of the Portuguese Cinematheque, with João Bénard da Costa, the man who most loved his films and who obviously wants to know everything there is to know about Vale Abraão. But it is curious: Oliveira’s great romantic vein (Benilde or Virgem Mãe, Amor de Perdição, Francisca, etc) is not much in the frame here. Rocha seems to illuminate other things. In his words: “I wouldn’t want anything didactic like an explanatory portrait. I would like a bouquet of poisonous fl owers, a round of applause for the old master cannibal. Then, once the vampire is placated, steal his secrets and ironies, a lyrical walk through the caverns of memory, between pirouettes, bursts of laughter and drops of blood.” There is, obviously, a delicious complicity between the two filmmakers, master and disciple, so many years “earlier”and “later” as underlined by Oliveira in his film Visita or Memórias e Confissões in which he declares his admiration for Rocha and his cinema. And Vale Abraão is not evoked by chance. It turns out that, between the archives of Oliveira films that Rocha shows us and the conversations between the filmmakers, complicity also allows a vampiric provocation, with the connivance of Maria Isabel, when Rocha invites Leonor Silveira, who she was already Oliveira’s muse and about to become Ema (Vale Abraão), to pay them a surprise visit while magnificently dressed in red! (FF)

Technical sheet