Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Visita ou Memórias e Confissões / Visit or Memories and Confessions

Conversazione privata. PT 1981 [catalogue: 1982]. Posthumously released: 2015. D: Manoel de Oliveira. SC+Dial.: Manoel de Oliveira, Agustina Bessa-Luís. DP: Elso Roque. ED: Manoel de Oliveira, Ana Luísa Guimarães. C: Manoel de Oliveira, Maria Isabel de Oliveira, Urbano Tavares Rodrigues (se stessi), Teresa Madruga, Diogo Dória (voci). P: Cineastas Associados. 35 mm. 68’. Col. From: Cinemateca Portuguesa.
    [A 2015 print. Two years are given on the print: 1981 as the year of production and subsidy and 2015 for the laboratory work.]
    M: Ludwig van Beethoven: Klavierkonzert Nr. 4 op. 58 (1806).
    Viewed at Cinema Arlecchino (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato, Ritrovati e Restaurati), introduced by Gian Luca Farinelli and José Manuel Costa, with e-subtitles in English and Italian [tbc: English subtitles on the print?], 30 June 2015

Lorenzo Codelli (Il Cinema Ritrovato, catalogue and website): "Filmed in the early 1980s to be released posthumously, Visita ou Memórias e Confissões led Manoel de Oliveira to film the house in Rua Vilarinha, Oporto, designed by architect José Porto, that he had built and then used as his family home for four decades after his marriage in 1940, until he was forced to sell it."

"Visita ou Memórias e Confissões is an autobiographical film of ‘memories and confessions’, hence the filmmaker’s wish to keep it unreleased during his lifetime. “A house is an intimate, personal relationship, where one finds his roots”, “upon my request, Agustina wrote a very beautiful script, that she called Visita. And I added some reflections on the house and on my life” (Manoel de Oliveira)."

"Thank you, dear Manoel, for leaving us one of your most beautiful films as a posthumous gift! Forced to sell your house-labyrinth surrounded by an enchanted garden, where you had lived and created for forty years, you decided in 1982 to film a Visita, like Marienbad, through its twists and turns, its hidden secrets, supported by a lyrical text written by your faithful Agustina Bessa-Luís and recited by two voices. Furthermore, you wanted to tell us standing up, facing the camera, like in one of Escher’s mirrors, your ‘memories and confessions’. Back then, you had made just six films, a fifth of your work. You told us about your father, a powerful industrialist, your wife, a devoted muse, and women in general, your children, your nefarious stay in Salazar’s prisons, your turbulent century, and above all your vocation. “Cinema is my passion. For him, I have sacrificed everything”. Already in Porto da minha infância, from 2001, you told us about your youth as an athlete and a cinephile."

"Your parable, from well-heeled bourgeois to great artist, including fatal falls and audacious flights, how you sketched it with such studied nonchalance! Freed, for eternity, from Time. Thank you so
very much."

"P.S. Note to distributors: do not dare call it a ‘documentary’!"
(Lorenzo Codelli)

AA: A highlight of the Festival. Manoel de Oliveira (1908-2015) who died in April spoke directly to us from the screen in a projection of a posthumous film made over thirty years ago. The audience at Cinema Arlecchino was ideal. The message was gratefully received.

It is a confession of love to the director's wife Maria Isabel and their family. Woman for Oliveira is a symbol of the equilibrium of the world. "I love life, but death does not scare me". "Only love can give life its ultimate meaning".

Two invisible guests wander in Oliveira's family house, and we keep meeting Oliveira himself at his typewriter and 16 mm film projector. We see home movies and hear the Oliveira family story, including the story of the family industry until the Carnation Revolution. During the Salazar dictatorship Oliveira was caught by the secret police PIDE and taken to prison after he had made Acto da Primavera.

We also hear about valued friends such as André Bazin, Paulo Rocha, and Erika and Ulrich Gregor.

The family home is a site of love and culture, and we are invited into a last tour to the house that has already been sold, to witness the 1930s architecture, the garden, the furniture, the paintings, the photographs, and the objects.

Co-written with Oliveira's favourite author Agustina Bessa-Luís the dialogue and commentary is of high literary value. I hope it will be published.

Shot by Elso Roque, the film is a refined visual journey into the garden and the interior of the house.

The new photochemical print is beautiful.

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