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Tabu (2012)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 5 April 2012 (Portugal)
2:09 | Trailer
A restless retired woman teams up with her deceased neighbor's maid to seek out a man who has a secret connection to her past life as a farm owner at the foothill of Mount Tabu in Africa.


Miguel Gomes
18 wins & 41 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Telmo Churro ... Intrepid explorer
Miguel Gomes ... Narrator (voice)
Hortêncílio Aquina Hortêncílio Aquina ... Porter (as Hortencílio Aquina)
Américo Mota Américo Mota ... Porter
Valentim Hortêncílio Valentim Hortêncílio ... Porter (as Valentim Hortencílio)
Artur Januário Artur Januário ... Porter
Mariana Ricardo Mariana Ricardo ... Explorer's wife / Aurora's friend
Teresa Madruga Teresa Madruga ... Pilar
Maya Kosa Maya Kosa ... Polish woman
Isabel Cardoso ... Santa
Laura Soveral ... Aurora
Vítor Manuel Vítor Manuel ... Guide
Cândido Ferreira Cândido Ferreira ... Painter
Maria José Ricardo Maria José Ricardo ... Literacy teacher
Joana Cunha Ferreira Joana Cunha Ferreira ... Pilar's friend


A restless retired woman teams up with her deceased neighbor's maid to seek out a man who has a secret connection to her past life as a farm owner at the foothill of Mount Tabu in Africa.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Portugal | Germany | Brazil | France | Spain


Portuguese | English | Polish

Release Date:

5 April 2012 (Portugal) See more »

Also Known As:

Tabou See more »

Filming Locations:

Lisbon, Portugal See more »


Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The movie that Aurora was said to have participated in, "It will never snow again over Kilimanjaro", is, of course, fictional. See more »


When the children chase the vehicle with Aurora and her baby in it, some of them are wearing t-shirts with brands and slogans from more modern times than the 1960s when the film is set. See more »


References Crocodile Dundee (1986) See more »


Variações Pindéricas Sobre a Insensatez
Written and performed by Joana Sá
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User Reviews

The internal intrepid explorer (sans soleil)
2 March 2013 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

This is pretty astounding stuff. How apt and special, that so soon after the untimely passing of Raoul Ruiz, another director in the Hispanic world (that includes Portugal and the colonies) announces himself as a bright new voice with this great work? And in the same vein of multilateral realities blurring memory with storytelling as Ruiz. It's almost perfectly metaphysical, and in line with the phenomenon of recent interesting Hispanic filmmakers. Medem, Martel, and now this guy.

Before we get to that, I'd like to say about this that it achieves by far one of the most important aspects in a film—it takes place in a profoundly characteristic world of its own, I expect I will be haunted for months by its sultry, languorous Africa. The atmosphere is one of mysterious beauty, waiting and sexual lassitude. The film has textures, smells. The sound work is perfectly sculpted. The camera is sometimes in Antonioni's turf of spatial meditation, sometimes in Herzog's found ecstasy, sometimes in Chris Marker's visual letters from memory.

So the fabric of the film is exceptional, that alone would be enough to earn an enthusiastic recommendation from me, but that is the basis for some pretty cool narrative threads, all pointing to storytelling as maps to the life behind the fabric of illusions.

The typical reading of the film is that split in two segments, 'Lost Paradise' and 'Paradise', we have an emotionally shattered old woman, and her backstory of much erotic exploration and tragic heartbreak in faraway Mozambique that explains who she was.

It is more interesting than that. The second part which is by far the most captivating, is a story an old friend tells of her, and as he tells it, he tells a million other stories, about friends, rock'n'roll frolicking, crocodiles as passion, boxing invisible enemies, jungle monsters and anticolonial revolution. As he tells it, some of the puzzling obsessions of the delusional old woman we've known begin to make sense, her worry for a loose crocodile, apprehension of witchcraft and impassioned plea of having blood on her hands. Her ravings had basis after all, it matters that they are illusory images transmuted from actual events.

Now if you go back to the first segment, you will see that a recurring notion is how something may be imagined-imaginary, but the images can perturb or affect reality—see this in the old woman's dream of gambling that propels her to gamble the next day, in the catacomb imagined to be Roman, in the co-worker's talk of mass susceptibility.

Isn't this why cinema can work at all? Love?

The framing device is a film that Pilar is watching in the cinema, the film is about an 'intrepid and melancholic explorer' in the African savanna who is haunted by visions of his dead wife. They all are intrepid explorers of course, bringing images to life, as are we venturing in the shared journey of exploring the old woman.

This device comes first in the film, but it could be taking place at any time. Pilar is the main character of the first segment, but we know close to nothing of her, except that she is melancholic, lonely and wants to be of help—we learn she is an activist, she arranges for a Polish girl to stay with her but the girl never shows up. To emphasize her solitude, it's the New Year's Eve in Lisbon which she spends crying in a theater.

And she is staying next to an old woman (she is not getting younger herself), who is losing it and near the end, 'dying'. So who is imagining from the old woman's ravings a life of excitement and escape into scorching faraway heat?

Martel has even more submerged narrative in this mode. But this is too good to pass—this guy shows mastery in creating a cinematic aura and he gets how a story can be about blowing glass into the air of story to give us reflective shapes about the urges.

(if readers can help with contact info for the filmmaker let me know)

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