Very recently we visited Evora and Monsaraz (Portugal). The latter is a tiny walled town on top of a hill that's very magical and dates from before the XVIIth Century. Browsing through a beautiful shop, I came across a copy of "The Botanist" ("O Botanico no Alentejo" in Portuguese). The author/director is the husband of the shop-owner. Intrigued by the DVD, I bought a copy and just screened it last night.
It's a short (maybe 40 minutes) very whimsical film. A couple of street musicians (one very tall, the other very short) stumble unto a magical paperback that gives them a sort of passageway to the magic of "Alentejo" (literally: past the "Tajo" river), a beautiful and not very populated part of beautiful Portugal.
At first just short glimpses into this beautiful region, with a bit of mystery thrown in for effect. Flowers, landscapes, aromas (one can almost smell the flowers).
The musicians suddenly are visiting this magical place (which really *is* magical).
The film is very simple, with quite a bit of simple comedy. No dialogs, so it really is a silent film with plenty of ambiance.
Monsaraz has that magical quality that pervades the film. In fact both when we entered the town and left it, a very very strong wind met us at the gates of the town. Almost frightening. But it was just a greeting to see the "Alentejo". The film will also give you a loving glimpse into this part of Portugal...
An experimental work, with much to recommend.
Enjoyed it very much.
One hopes that Francis Manceau will surprise us with another film...
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