Abraham Valley- Portuguese masterpiece

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Abraham Valley- Portuguese masterpiece

Postby john-5 » Tue Dec 02, 2003 7:35 am

I've just seen for the 3rd time this loose, referential 1993 transposition of Madame Bovary to Portugal's lovely Douro valley, by the now nonagenarian (and still amazingly prolific) director Manoel de Oliveira. Though the initial sublime relish of finding unexpected treasure can never be recaptured, i'm as convinced as ever that it's a unique and formidable masterpiece. Its 3 hour length, languorous pacing, sometimes pretentious conversations and often snobbish or unlikeable characters won't be for all tastes, but.. it has a supreme elegance, subtle irony and dry wit, outstanding cinematography (by Mario Barroso), superb compositions, decor and use of scenery, and- not least- a hypnotic central performance by Leonor Silveira as the self-centred beauty married to a dull doctor, who embarks on unfulfilling affairs.

Graced with Vermeerian serenity, and a rich but intangible sense of mystery worthy of Velasquez, it's as "rounded, strange and deep" as a noble vintage wine from the area's vineyards. One for the connoisseur (and who here is not?) to savour at leisure.
john-5
 


Re: Abraham Valley- Portuguese masterpiece

Postby gratefultiger » Wed Dec 03, 2003 10:09 pm

There you go again john. yes you are right a masterwork!
D'oliveira deseverves so much more kudos as even at his advanced age (90's)he makes films that make others look feeble. i am going home too view it again right now after i pick up a few beers ..cheers
gratefultiger
 

Re: Abraham Valley- Portuguese masterpiece

Postby john-5 » Sat Dec 06, 2003 4:17 pm

You're one of the very few people i've come across who's actually seen it- and i'm very glad you agree. I don't remember seeing it in any critic's top 10.
john-5
 

Re: Abraham Valley- Portuguese masterpiece

Postby gratefultiger » Sun Dec 07, 2003 11:06 pm

More People should see it especially women,as a matter of fact i shall recommend it to my darling daughter as an alternative to "Kill Bill" etc
gratefultiger
 

Re: Abraham Valley- Portuguese masterpiece

Postby auteur » Mon Dec 08, 2003 12:33 am

To begin with, I enjoyed John-5's comments very much. I think Mr. de Oliveira belongs in the pantheon of cinema masters. He has a unique vision, visual intelligence, and a very particular sensibility. I've seen [i]Abraham's Valley, Journey to the Beginning of the World, I'm Going Home, The Convent[/i]. I learned about him from critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, who claims Oliveira's masterpieces are [i]NO, FRANCISCA[/I] and [I]INQUIETUDE[/I], which I have not seen.
I've been able to track down two other Oliveiras on dvd: PARTY and THE LETTER. (Have you fellas seen 'em?) The latter sounds very similar to Abraham, which I enjoy and admire, but stop short of calling a masterpiece due to occasional slackness.

Leonor Silveira has done little... except for gracing every film directed by MdO since her debut in CANNIBALS(88). A total of 14 films!
auteur
 

Re: Abraham Valley- Portuguese masterpiece

Postby john-5 » Mon Dec 08, 2003 6:18 am

Only Abraham Valley and I'm Going Home have been widely available in Britain. I got a dvd of No or the Vainglory of Command from French internet shop Fnac. I was slightly disappointed as my expectations were so high (from its selection by Jonathon Romney in the excellent book Film: The Critics' Choice, by Gilbert Adair in his superb book Flickers, and its place in Claire Denis' top 10). It covers several quite diverse episodes (often none too glorious) in Portuguese history, as recounted to his colleagues by a soldier fighting in Angola. The main battle scene betrays its low budget (and there were difficulties encountered during filming) but is still impressive, and though the film is not always to my taste (there's one bold surprisingly kitschy segment) it's never less than interesting, provocative and original. When walking a stretch of local canal here, i invariably think of the film's lush Angolan vegetation and the opening sequence.

Aniki Bobo (1942), a film about children in the "neo-realist" style apparently, has a high reputation and was selected as one of the BFI's 360 Classics. Amor de Perdicao (1978) was a breakthrough for him and is generally considered among his best.

If only such films were accessible.
john-5
 


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