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sweeping and epic -- it is more of a MASTERING of Lisbon
At four and one-half hours, this is the longest movie I have seen in quite some time. The length will most definitely detract many (as would the costumes and subtitles) from ever sitting down to view this; but I think those with patience and appreciation of "epic"/sweeping storytelling might like this one.
This is the story of Joao, a young orphaned boy (he discovers he's actually a bastard as the story unfolds) living in a Catholic orphanage under the watchful, caring eye of Father Denis. Joao learns of his parentage and where they came from and their circumstances ... and as those stories unfold we learn of different characters in THOSE stories as well.
The film spirals and sweeps and sways with several tangents and characters; but I found it all interesting and actually wanted to continue watching. That each of the stories intertwine and circle each other is part of the "mystery" of the title and parts of the film act and feel as if the entire production is a dream.
It is lovely to look at (gorgeous costumes and sets) and each of the characters has a revelation that continues the "mystery" and the intrigue and drama. The story travels from the streets of Lisbon to Venice to France to Tunis and to Brazil ... it is SWEEPING on a grand-scale as it also spans three decades.
Based on the late author, Camilo Castelo Branco's (who shot himself at the age of 70 b/c he was going blind) novel of the same name, Chilean director Raoul Ruiz has given us his final film (it is masterful) as he died shortly before the film began screening. That it is all so tragic and doomed and romantic is fitting ... as that is exactly what the movie gives its viewer.
I know none of my friends will give this one a shot ... it does require patience. But it is a beauty.
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