Aesthetically beautiful, architecturally elegant, resplendent, sprawling and with lovely views, while also warm, cosy, inviting and filled with ghosts of past and present, Portuguese maestro Manoel de Oliveira’s erstwhile Porto villa – where he’d lived for four decades but had to sell due to mounting debts – was something worth prowling about and soaking in. He’d made this at the age of 73 – perhaps contemplating mortality – and had instructed that it be publicly screened only after his death; but, as it turned out, he’d live till the grand old age of 106 – making a plethora of movies right till the end – and hence it remained hidden for 33 long years. The film, therefore, ironically served as a double farewell – one by the man reminiscing about the place he’d called home, and another by the world of cinema to this towering giant who passed away a month before its release. As this enigmatically titled work alludes to, it captures a mystical visit to this place, and explores the memories that it houses through candid personal, familial, cinematic, philosophical and political confessions. These facets, in turn, made it a beguiling, elegiac, lyrical and meditative tone poem, and cine-memoir which fluidly alternated between diary and essay film. It begins with two amorphous visitors – whose voices we hear offscreen but never see – strolling around the deserted, luxurious house while musing on it. Thereafter, while they keep interjecting in short intervals, we hear Oliveira speaking directly to the camera about his childhood, his wife Maria, his children, his father’s business, his infinite love for the medium, his arrest during the Salazar dictatorship, and a lot more, and which he interspersed with his collection of home movies.
Director: Manoel de Oliveira
Genre: Documentary/Essay Film