6.7/10
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Letters from War (2016)

Cartas da Guerra (original title)
Trailer
1:53 | Trailer
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 »

Director:

Ivo Ferreira
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29 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Miguel Nunes ... António
Margarida Vila-Nova ... Maria José
Ricardo Pereira ... Major
João Pedro Vaz João Pedro Vaz ... Capitão
Simão Cayatte ... Alferes Eleutério
Isac Graça Isac Graça ... Cabo Hilário
Francisco Hestnes Francisco Hestnes ... Cabo Carica (as Francisco Hestnes Ferreira)
João Pedro Mamede João Pedro Mamede ... Alferes Professor
Tiago Aldeia Tiago Aldeia ... Alferes Ferreira
Orlando Sérgio Orlando Sérgio ... Catolo
David Caracol David Caracol ... Soba Chiúme
Miguel Raposo Miguel Raposo ... Enfermeiro Gago Coutinho
Gonçalo Carvalho Gonçalo Carvalho ... Cabo Projeccionista
Raúl Rosário Raúl Rosário ... Operador Chiúme
Cândido Ferreira Cândido Ferreira ... Sr. Fontes
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Storyline

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.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Portugal | Germany

Language:

Portuguese

Release Date:

1 September 2016 (Portugal) See more »

Also Known As:

Letters from War See more »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$177,388
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was submited to represent Portugal at the 89th Academy Awards. See more »

Connections

Features Rapazes de Táxis (1965) See more »

Soundtracks

Swan Lake Op.20
Written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (as Tchaikovsky)
Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra
See more »

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User Reviews

 
War from a distance
20 February 2016 | by gl03See all my reviews

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.


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