Manoel De Oliveira at Cannes

At 101, Portuguese director Manoel De Oliveira is taking the Cannes Film Festival by storm. Well, as by storm as someone who uses a cane and is little hard of hearing can. Todd McCarthy tells us that Oliveira barely looks older than 87.

The director made his directorial debut 80 years ago and his 1942 film, Aniki-Bóbó, is a landmark film in the history of Portuguese cinema during Salazar’s dictatorship. His latest film, The Strange Case of Anjelica, premiered May 13 in Un Certain Regard.

My discovery of Manoel de Oliveira occurred over two years ago when for my History of World Cinema I wanted to write about a country rarely covered in discussions of European film – at least in American film courses. Since writing that paper, I have watched countless De Oliveira films – Je Rentre à la Maison (2001), Abraham’s Valley (1993), Um Filme Falado (2004). Each film is poignant and beautiful; De Oliveira is a master at creating powerful shot compositions. The frame has the power to overwhelm you with simplicity and complexity all at once.

If you have not seen his films, rent a few. Only some are available on Netflix, but it will be worth it.

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