Based on António Lobo Antunes's novel, a collection of letters written by a young soldier, doctor and a aspirant writer, to his wife while he was serving in Angola between 1971 and 1973, ...
See full summary »
Fernando, a solitary ornithologist, is looking for black storks when he is swept away by the rapids. Rescued by a couple of Chinese pilgrims, he plunges into an eerie and dark forest, trying to get back on his track.
João Pedro Rodrigues
João Pedro Rodrigues
"Once upon a time, before people came along, all the creatures were free and able to be with one another", narrates the voiceover. "All the animals danced together and were immeasurably ... See full summary »
The major hotel Europe in Sarajevo will receive an important visit on the anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, attack that triggered World War. As the manager of ... See full summary »
The tragedy and comedy in Carlo's life begins, grows and ends like the tragedy and comedy of Portugal. In the company of his close friend, João da Ega, allegedly a brilliant writer, Carlos,... See full summary »
Nero, a deported Mexican, returns illegally to the U.S in search of his identity. He joins the U.S army as a Green card soldier, a shortcut to citizenship. Lost in a maze, Nero fights to obtain his nationality.
Bored by spending the summer in the city, 15-year-old Rita decides to take a fancy to her new neighbor, a photographer who is setting up an exhibit of his shots in Melanesia. What starts as... See full summary »
Based on António Lobo Antunes's novel, a collection of letters written by a young soldier, doctor and a aspirant writer, to his wife while he was serving in Angola between 1971 and 1973, during the Portuguese Colonial War, a war between Portugal with its former overseas provinces.
Director Ivo Ferreira has chosen António Lobo Antunes' letters from the front lines as the narrative backbone of his film about the Angolan War of Independence. Antunes' letters are juxtaposed as near constant voice overs against an impressionistic backdrop of episodes from the war, with only a few scenes of actual dialogue scattered in between. It's a technique which essentially fragments the film into two disjointed layers that rarely connect.
Antunes' letters are for the most part yearning vows of love, while the film depicts the boredom and cruelty of men at war. In a questionable reversal of roles, Antunes' letters are read mostly by a gentle female voice, presumably his wife's, who otherwise has no voice of her own. We see her in a few abstract scenes, yet she remains a ghost, a projection of the author's longing, rather than becoming a character of her own, despite her constant presence as a narrator. This further serves to distance the viewer's perspective, even more so as the loosely connected episodes told on the visual level refuse to develop the characters they depict, or (with one exception) present the protagonists with meaningful moral choices.
Cartas da Guerra is undoubtedly visually striking, filmed in high-contrast black and white, and if Portuguese is your native language, it might be easier to connect its aural and visual levels (as opposed to reading through endless lovelorn monologues in two-language subtitles). In the end though, I doubt that it salvages a movie that's at best an interesting narrative experiment, at worst a structural failure on a topic that deserved better.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?