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How to ruin what could have been an outstanding movie
This movie is about Padre Antonio Vieira, a XVIIth Century Portuguese priest who lived in Brazil and became famous for his speeches standing up for the Indians, denouncing slavery and the way the Portuguese Crown ruled her south american colony.
It's really heartbreaking watching Padre Antonio Vieira's magnificent speeches being wasted in another of Manoel de Oliveira's ultra-boring, incompetent movies. First of all, this isn't really a movie about Padre Antonio Vieira but merely a collection of his speeches being declaimed. There is no story being told, no connection at all between the scenes. Oliveira in incapable of starting or ending a scene without someone opening or closing a door. These amateur directing tricks get really annoying after the sixth, seventh time. This movie has no musical soundtrack. Not one piece of music to lead the narrative. The camera language doesn't help either, because there isn't any. Except for a couple of travelings onwards and backwards during a sermon by Luis Miguel Cintra, the camera rests immobile; not one move to the side or with the zoom. The camera just lies there, frozen. The scene with the Dutch soldiers attacking a church and Indians coming out of it screaming is just too pathetic and childish to describe.
Padre Antonio Vieira's character is played by three different persons: Ricardo Trepa (young Vieira), Luis Miguel Cintra (medium-age Vieira) and Lima Duarte (old Vieira). Ricardo Trepa is not an actor, and doesn't even make an effort to act anything at all: he's just the director's grandson saying lines he was told to memorize. "His" Vieira is absolutely unexpressive and boring. Next comes Luis Miguel Cintra who isn't an actor aswell but rather an oratorian. I can't remember when was the last time he played a dialogue but I'm sure the Berlin Wall was still up at the time. Cintra plays his usual character as in every movie he's in: Luis Miguel Cintra Declaiming. Time after time, another 20 minute monologue of Cintra staring at the camera or with his eyes fixed somewhere on the wall behind the crew. He's always the same. What's the point of putting him declaiming Padre Antonio Vieira? Give him the phone book to read and the audience will be as thrilled. Finally comes the sole positive feature of this movie: Lima Duarte, an absolutely brilliant actor from Brazil. His acting is outstanding, overwhelming. But then again, it's completely illogical that it's only when Padre Antonio Vieira gets old that he acquires a dramatic and energetic personality. And why this is so? Because by that time the audience realizes that Mr Oliveira didn't direct any acting at all, he just handed the script to the actors and told them to say whatever it's written there. Luckily, Lima Duarte is a five-star actor and did what he was told to do the best way he could. It's because of his professionalism, of his effort to get some decent acting amongst this cinematographical disaster I give this movie 1/10.
I will not give Mr Manoel de Oliveira another chance of impressing me to the point of not regretting having bought the ticket and entered the theater. I was really angry and outraged when this film ended, specially because of the way it wasted what could have been a very good movie. A disappointment to say the least. I will not watch another movie from Manoel de Oliveira for as long as I live.
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