Without a doubt, Manoel de Oliveira (1908–2015) is the most significant Portuguese director. He gained worldwide acclaim with his oeuvre. Until his death at the age of 106, he was the oldest filmmaker still making films. In 2014, he made a trailer for the "Viennale" festival. His work is wide-ranging and difficult to categorize. It is rooted in the worlds of literature and the theater, both ancient and modern. His films acquire another dimension through his treatment and a particular unique style. The viewer is distanced, suddenly new perspectives emerge, and the difference between reality and fiction comes into view. By exaggerating melodramatic elements, framing, or parallel plots, the narrative in Oliveira's films sometimes enters the surreal or becomes a parable, acquiring another level of reality. With all their complexity, Oliveira's films also often have a subtle satirical dimension, interwoven with a fine sense of irony and ambiguity. The director meditates on the ephemeral nature of love and relationships, he asks existential questions, and then he carries out expeditions through countries, continents and eras of history. His films break through the realism of narration, with actors looking into the camera or reciting texts instead of "acting". Thus Oliveira resembles Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet. On the other hand, in his composition of images he is related to Carl Theodor Dreyer and Robert Bresson.
With his films often featuring in Arsenal's program and that of the International Forum, Oliveira was a frequent guest of ours. In 1980, our screening of a 16mm print of his film AMOR DE PERDIÇÃO (Ill-Fated Love) as the first film of the Forum had the effect of a thunderbolt. With its unusual length and strictly stylized narrative style, it left an unforgettable impression on viewers and even brought some of the most hardened critics to tears. The French critic Louis Marcorelles wrote that Oliveira had "an inimitable way of observing the world and the way people live, a heartbeat, momentum to the peaks." This could be applied to Oliveira's entire oeuvre.
We accompanied this oeuvre all the way and are therefore particularly pleased to present a comprehensive retrospective of Oliveira's works, a series of rarely screened masterpieces, opening on April 8.
A life in the shadows of society, defined by uncertainty, rebellion and rejection, rootlessness, loneliness and emptiness – these are some of the particular characteristics of the filmic sketches of existence in no man's lands, parallel societies and half-worlds that we are presenting in April's Magical History Tour. Our tour d'horizon, which runs the gamut of eras and genres, unfolds a widespread map of different universes, each with their own aesthetic and dramaturgical topography. The film's common denominator is a coordinate system for social co-existence or human relationships that has come out of sync, leaving the viewer with an impression of a sometimes razor-thin line between the center and the periphery.
What do 16mm, 35mm and 70mm actually mean? What is screen masking and what is it used for? How does a dissolve work? And what is actually happening when the image on the screen stops moving and begins to melt? If you’re interested in finding out how films get on to the screen, Arsenal would like to invite you to take a peek behind the scenes on one of our projection room tours. Our projectionist Bodo Pagels will show you round the projection room, tell you all about film formats, projectors and projection techniques, demonstrate how films are fed into the projector and provide a full introduction to the secrets of film projection. He will also be happy to answer any questions you might have about the cinema set-up and will adapt the tour to your wishes and interests as far as possible. The next scheduled tour will take place on Saturday April 29, at 4pm. Please register in advance.
*To meteoro vima tou pelargou
Theo Angelopoulos Greece 1991
35 mm OV/GeS 142 min