tral mysteries of the human condition. In Nao, ou a va gloria de mandar ('No, or the commander's vainglory', 1990) he gave his own view of the history of Portugal. He reinterpreted bovaryism in Val Abraham ( 1992), and he analysed human microcosms in A caixa ('The box', 1994). Oliveira has become the public image of Portuguese cinema, showered with honours in Europe, Japan, and America. But in Portugal he is a lonely figure, spurned by a public which finds his films too difficult. Indifferent to popular acclaim, he defends the aristocracy of the art of cinema in the age of the 'audio-visual'.The amazing paradox of his career, which started with silent films and culminated after his eightieth birthday, comes from the way re-thought cinema. He has never strayed from the experimental side which was already obvious in Douro, but his pursuits have outstripped formal research, to become questions about the very nature of cinematic art or about art itlsef. Sometimes he makes films with ten-minute takes ( Le Soulier de satin) and sometimes he cuts by the millimetre ( The Divine Comedy). There are sweeping shots such as only appear in the classics (the opening of Nao, the end of Val Abraham), then he inserts the most minimal, the most stripped of experiences ( O dia da desespero ('Day of despair', 1992), A caixa). Some works echo great themes ( History, Love, Death), in others the scenario is reduced to a few essential lines. Sometimes he appears a profound metaphysician, at others he appears to mock totalizing visions.A film-maker of profound intellect, he is both the last of the great early film-makers (he can be compared to Dreyer and Ford) and one of the paradigmatic representatives of modern cinema. For him, the world which represents itself is the world which presents itself, a would haunted by the dream of an initial and ultimate unity. And, if he has built an unmistakable style (an Oliveira film is recognizable in every shot), he has not become fixed in one theory or theme. Each film seems to question everything we thought we knew about him. JOÃO BÉNARD DA COSTASELECT FILMOGRAPHY Douro, faina fluvial ( 1931); Aniki Bóbó ( 1942); O pintor e a cidade ( 1956); Acto da primavera ( 1960); A caça ( 1963); O passado e o presente ( 1971); Benilde ou a virgem mãe ( 1975); Francisca ( 1981); Le Soulier de stain ( 1985); Mon Cas ( 1986); Os canibais ( 1988); Não ou a vã gloria de mandar ( 1990); A divina comédia ( 1991); Val Abraham ( 1992); A caixa ( 1994).BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bénard da João Costa (ed.) ( 1981), Manoel de Oliveira. -- ( 1988), Manoel de Oliveira: Alguns projectos não realizados e outors textos (Manoel de Oliveira: some unrealized projects and other texts). Lardeau, Yann, Tancelin, Philippe, and Parsi, Jacques ( 1988), Manoel de Oliveira. Wakeman, John (1987), 'Manoel de Oliveira' in World Film Directors, i ( 1890-1945).
Opposite: A scene from Oliveira's first feature, the internationally acclaimed Aniki Bóbó ( 1942), shot in the slums of Oporto.
choice, she picks those that belong to a young would-be bullfighter named González who delivers salamis for the Hernán Cortes Los Conquistadores meat company. Like the billboards, this film's sexy images are clearly addressed to the erotic tastes of both genders. Bigas Luna's films are as excessive as Almodávar's, yet they are usually populated not by emancipated lovers but (as in Saura's Peppermint frappé) by emotionally stunted characters whose sexuality turns pathological in a consumerist context. His films suggest that the post-Franco images of a super-liberated Spain may be as bogus as the Francoist españoladas.
In contrast, Fernando Trueba's Belle Époque shows that this so-called 'new liberated mentality' has historic roots in Spain's pre-Civil War era, a period he recovers as a utopian fantasy for the same global audience that made Almodávar a star. The film is bracketed by two suicides that are committed by figures whose culturally specific meanings will probably be understood only by Spanish spectators (a Guardia Civil with anarchistic tendencies and a Catholic priest devoted to the philosophy of Unamuno), yet the transgressive comedy at its centre helped it beat China's Farewell my Concubine for best foreign film at the 1994 Academy Awards. However, the film is not so transgressive as it appears, for in its most carnivalesque scene (where the beautiful lesbian sister in military drag seduces the hero who is convincingly dressed as a maid), cross-dressing is repositioned within heterosexual bounds. When Trueba accepted his Oscar, his humorous speech reaffirmed this radical posture. After apologizing for being an atheist who was incapable of thanking God, he thanked Billy Wilder instead, the very film-maker whom Almodóvar always acknowledges as his most important influence. Like Almodóvar, Wilder is another European who made good in Hollywood both in genderbending comedies like Some Like It Hot and in classic reflexive noirs like Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard. This is precisely the terrain now being explored by a super- liberated Spanish cinema which is ardently pursuing that obscure object of global desire.
D' Marvin Lugo( 1991), Carlos Saura:The Practice of Seeing.
Hopewell, John ( 1986), Out of the Past: Spanish Cinema after Franco.
Kinder, Marsha ( 1987), ' Pleasure and the New Spanish Mentality: A Conversation with Pedro Almodóvar'.
---- ( 1993), Blood Cinema: The Reconstruction of National Identity in Spain.
Kovács, Katherine S. ( 1983), ' Berlanga Life Size: An Interview with Luis García Berlanga'.
Maxwell, Richard ( 1994), The Spectacle of Democracy: Spanish Television, Nationalism and Political Transition.
Payne, Stanley ( 1987-8), ' Spanish Fascism'.
Smith, Paul Julian ( 1992), Laws of Desire: Questions of Homosexuality in Spanish Writing and Film, 1960-1990.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: The Oxford History of World Cinema. Contributors: Geoffrey Nowell-Smith - Editor. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 603.
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