In a mental institution the patients see themselves as people like Jesus, Lázaro, Marta, Maria, Adão, Eve, Sonia, Raskolnikov, Aliosha e Ivan Karamasov, a Philosopher, a Profet, Santa Teresa d'Avila, reciting the Divine Comedy.
Manoel de Oliveira
Maria de Medeiros,
Luís Miguel Cintra
The above said, the film is typical of its director late in his career. The 96 year old Portuguese master, said to be the oldest major director still working, is known for the above traits in most, if not all, his films in the past decade.
While that style worked for me in 5 or 6 of his last 9 films I've seen, I expected more from a film billed as a historical epic. In my view, the film did little to advance my knowledge about this legendary Portuguese king, Sebastian. The synopsis read prior to my viewing gave me all the insight I still have.
I learned next to nothing about this king in the 2 hours plus (seems like 3 hours) duration of the movie. The script certainly did very little to explain why he is an enigmatic legend. In fact, there is only vague reference to his upcoming battle against the heathen Muslims, the main theme the director wanted to explore in the film according to his interviews.
That relevance to today's "battle" between the Christian Western World and the Muslim World is indeed timely. However, unless one is told in advance by a film festival catalog, a review, or the director's own comments, one would probably not notice this supposed statement at all. But knowing in advance, I looked for this relevant message, this connection between the sixteenth century and today in the most subtle ways. I just could not find it. I hope other users can see more in this film than I did. And if they do, please write about it.
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