This was a poor choice for my Friday night viewing. I am usually glad when my channel programming allows seeing something else than the usual American stuff. I like exploring new cinematographic territories, and I have been rewarded with many of the finest movies that I have ever seen. This was probably my first Portuguese movie, and it was made more promising as the imdb information was pointing to the director Manoel de Oliveira as to a veteran of the Portuguese cinema, some kind of a Bunuel of Portugal.
What a disappointment! The movie is so static, full of completely still scenes serving as background for human rights preaching in Catholic language. According to the official site - '"Palavra e Utopia" cannot be classified as a documentary, a biography, or a historical or didactic film, despite its chronological format. Rather, I would call it a fiction, with all the premises this will allow.' Actually it looks like a combination of the worst of the above. None of the rules of cinema fiction seem to be applied to create what a good film is about - emotion, identification with the characters, communicating the ideas in an artistic manner. Acting is good, but it does not help when all the rest of the movie is so boringly didactic.
I am not very familiar with Portuguese history. Father Viera's historic character seems to have been important (kind of a Thomas More of his country and time), and he would have deserved a better film.
Unless you are a fan of Portuguese history or moral preaching, you should avoid this film.
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