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18 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

one of the most interesting movies of the past couple of years, but perhaps for all the wrong reasons.

6/10
Author: Z_cm from portugal
1 October 2004

João César Monteiro was known for his excruciatingly lengthy movies and awkward humour, but nothing could prepare both the audiences and the critics for his outrageous 'Branca de Neve'! A huge debate followed its debut, it has been labeled everything, from a masterpiece to a fraud and four years later it still angers and baffles a great deal of people. The first shocker is the movie itself. All of us have heard of and may recall with fondness the silent movie era, but 'Branca de Neve' introduces us to the 'radiophonic movie' concept, that is, a movie that has no image at all! Most of the movie leaves the viewer staring at a monotonous black canvas, interrupted only by a few occasional and might I add, very brief still shots. The story itself is an adaptation of Robert Walser's 'Schneewittchen' and the dialog between the characters happens in complete darkness, like a radio play. But a very strangely acted one, like some weird cross between the melodramatic characters of 'Frei Luís de Sousa' and some cheap soap opera.

The outcome is bizarre and in my opinion truly unbearable. I have sat through César Monteiro's 'Comédia de Deus' and laughed at his 'Bodas de Deus' but I couldn't bear to watch the whole movie. Believe me, I tried! I have no problem with slow paced movies, Andrei Tarkovksy and István Szabó are two of my favorite directors, but 'Branca de Neve' is the ONE movie that crushed my will, and in accordance with a famous Hitchcock quote, the endurance of my bladder! This movie is practically unwatchable. But does it really matter?

Which brings us to the second part of the controversy raised by this movie: the art versus entertainment debate. I remember reading an article reviewing this movie that referred to it as 'a mindf***'. And indeed it is! It's like the director wanted to tease us, play with our conceptions and prejudices, defy our notion of what a movie is or should be. I'll give it credit for that, it's a very provocative movie, but again, it's unwatchable, maybe it's a piece of 'higher art', but, as movies go, it's a terrible movie in all respects.

The first question that popped into my mind when I realized the movie had no image was the budget issue, because this movie was sponsored by ICAM, that is, with the tax-payers' money. Where did the money actually go to? There's practically no camera work, unless you discount the lonesome two or three images here and there. The cast is small and all they needed was a recording studio to act out their lines. What happened to the funds? It just adds to the outrage!

So I have mixed feelings about 'Branca de Neve'. I like the concept and the thought that César Monteiro, in the true spirit that always made his movies so provocative, is trying to mess with our brains, gloves off, in a very unsanitary way. But this movie may be pushing the 'trying to be too artsy for its own sake' edge. I also think it was a terrible waste of resources, ICAM's sponsorship could've been spent in other ways, especially since money seems to be an issue as of late.

Final word: do watch this movie if you can and even if you can't endure the whole thing. If you are amused by it or if you feel insulted, I'm sure João César Monteiro will be pleased, wherever he may be. And should this fail to satisfy you, well, there's always Walt Disney's.

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11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

It's an art experience, not a movie!

7/10
Author: mario_c from Porto, Portugal
7 April 2006

Some people can think: "watch a movie is always an art experience, cinema is art, after all". Yes, that's right, but not as much as this one! This movie is far away from the common concept of cinema, it's beyond the concept of "let's watch a movie and eat some popcorn to entertain ourselves"!

It's original, provocative and tries to mess up with our most deeply concepts. César Monteiro's filmography is full of these ingredients, but in this particular case, it goes to the extreme, because it changes one of the most important concepts of cinema: To Watch something! When you listen to a song, you don't expect to see anything, just listen to it… when you read a book, you know you will have to imagine all the characters' faces, all the colors, all the scenarios…When you watch a movie you're expecting to see all the story, what is really happening on the screen. But here you don't, you just watch a black screen almost all the time!

I have to say that I watched this movie at the theater when it was released here in Portugal (there were just more 5/6 persons at the theater!) and I can tell you it was strange! I didn't feel like watching a movie, but as I was a part of some weird artistic experience. Believe me, it's really bizarre to be locked in a dark room for 75 minutes just hearing voices and looking to a dark screen! Sometimes I just felt suffocated! But if anyone asks me if it was bad, I will say it wasn't, because I see it as a unique experience, one that I will remember for all my life.

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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Provocative and unique

10/10
Author: mariomar-2 from Lisboa, Portugal
24 July 2003

The author shows that we can «see» a movie even if there are not images in the screen: you can «see» what happens following the dialogs and the description of the scenes. Like a story before sleep in a dark room. Anyway, there are some color plans (a few minutes): clowds on the sky, stone figures and César Monteiro itself in front of a wonderfull tree in the Lisbon's botanic garden.

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13 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

heart-wrenching beauty

10/10
Author: monsieurblob (monsieurblob@hotmail.com) from ulan bator, mongolia
1 January 2005

never ceases to amaze me the double standards between literature and film; those who whine about this walser adaptation wouldn't dare complain if it were in a book. and those who walk out of the cinema, does it mean they never read? the statement has to be made; it's about the sublime, anything from kant to brakhage, contrasted with that perpetual lame mimesis, democracy and identification, most cinema is rubbish.

there are staggeringly beautiful interventions of image, the sky and roman murals, and sound (i can't remember exactly). we are left to imagine in the wilderness. the theater becomes as do we.

film ceases to be constrained to the human figure and to the pro-filmic space and in the glorious nature of modern cinema leaves the frame and allows the viewer a freedom that has not been equaled in other art forms or, in fact, in life itself.

that is why modern, next to avant-garde in this art form definitely (and mostly in other artforms) has been rejected by the majority; it's too much for them.

the three movies i've reviewed in IMDb, i've claimed they were the best movies of all time. that is hardly possible when this one beats them all.

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10 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A dark movie

Author: kabuky_eri from Ericeira
21 November 2001

"Branca de neve" is the greatest movie I saw or heard in the noir genre, because it is almost filmed in pitch black. João César Monteiro has combined the best that radio has to offer with different shades of black. This way we pay much more attention to the dialogues. The director is considered a genius by a small minority in Portugal and I finally understood why, because he never cared for the pressure around him. At an interview after the movie he told the press that he couldn't care less about the people opinion about the movie and that's the way things should be. I rather pay to watch a dark screen than to watch a movie starring Val Kilmer. Enjoy the darkness...

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9 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

beautiful

10/10
Author: jlameira from Lisboa, Portugal
8 March 2003

One of the most beautiful films ever. Because it is almost entirely a black picture, with no images, it is kind of regarded as a hoax. It was polemic in Portugal for the director released a picture with no images, leaving the viewer in front of a black screen. But the dialogues are just great, the text is beautiful, and the fact it has no images creates a magical moment for anyone assisting to it.

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11 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Honest

Author: (zerofilmes@hotmail.com) from London
29 March 2002

This is the work of a genius. An honest and genuine piece of art that caused so much controversy because people are too "globalised" to accept something so far from the commercial standards as this one. This is a film with no compromises.

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2 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Over blown

3/10
Author: moslerssjmu from United States
3 December 2005

While being artistic and edgy this film doesn't in any way begin to redeem itself....For someone who suffers from repeated eye strain, and who listens to books on tape (as well as some more speech driven plays) in the dark to compensate for all the wear and tear, this film just isn't that spectacular. The novelty effect of a completely black screen, with a few still shots in no way constitutes or is worthy of a full length film. The director obviously thinks he's Godard (obviously isn't) and after reading up on him a bit, he comes off MORE than a bit pretentious. Save the money, or even DL, and turn off all the lights, TV, and turn on the stereo and simply listen to whatever you happen to think is a good fit ...Its the exact same experience.

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19 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

Makes me ashamed of being Portuguese

1/10
Author: eumenides-1 from Portugal
6 June 2003

Portuguese cinema suffers from two things:

1 Either it's trying to compete with Holywood standards, or

2 It tries to be so artistic/crafty/beautiful/intellectual/whatever pseudothing you can insert here that only a handful of other intellectuals understand... or at least pretend.

This movie is downright trash, it doesn't show an image for the duration of the whole movie, and the script is laughable.

And Portuguese wonder why we still haven't got a nomination for the Oscars.

I'm sure the director/writer didn't bother with what he did... or didn't do, since he was financed by the government - well, with so many deficiencies here, i'm ashamed money was spent on this pseudoartistic piece of trash.

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