Visita ou memórias e confissões

Manoel de Oliveira

A house in Porto, the one in which Oliveira lived for 40 years and had to sell in order to pay off debts, is visited by two wandering souls who are reluctant to enter. This house is deserted, they say, until you see them leave surrounded by darkness. But this couple from a masterful Agustina Bessa-Luís text, hidden behind the subjective camera that will cross the leafy house and gardens, have undoubtedly not seen what we see. They do not see the memories of the title, which are no less ghostly and often evoke other movies, family photo albums – a cinema house. They do not see the confessions, that voluntarily appoint as posthumous this “Manoel de Oliveira film by Manoel de Oliveira about a house (…), this film by me about myself,” shot in conditions as particular as they are secret just after Francisca, between late 1981 and part of 1982. There is another ghost in this movie and in this haunted house and already lost, that this couple never see but which we see. It’s Oliveira himself, who plays his role and takes the stage (often beside a portrait of the Mona Lisa) – together with a precious thing, the reality of his life. A “reality without subterfuge,” the way he addresses his wife and constant companion, Maria Isabel. And yet, are we not far away from the autobiographical film so common today when Oliveira reminds us that “fiction is the only reality in cinema”? This is a meditation on the human edifice of a work as solid as the big tree at the beginning of the film (“saving the world, accepting Heaven, waiting for the divine, leading men…”). It is a meditation on the artifices of cinema and the act of filming itself that returns to the origins (a film studio) and leaves us in front of the blank canvas. There is so much to say about this last gift, Visita ou Memórias e Confissões. Let’s just say it is the strongest upheaval of time ever produced by Oliveira and that, three months after his death, one cannot see it without an extreme sense of shock. Oliveira was always ahead of his time. Even in the film that he gave to time and that only the whims of time have decided to make visible. (FF)

Technical sheet


Portugal, 1982, Colour, 35mm, Mono, 73’

Original version : portuguese
Script : Manoel de Oliveira, d’Augustina Bessa-Luís
Photography : Elso Roque
Editing : Manoel de Oliveira, Ana Luisa
Sound : Joaquim Pinto