The partnership between Manoel de Oliveira and Agustina Bessa-Luís is one of the most intricate chapters in the inherently complex history of film adaptations of literary texts. As this is, in every respect, a unique case insofar as the affinities and dissimilarities between
literature and cinema are concerned, and since it has also given rise to a number of equally unusual accomplishments, the intersections between the two authors’ productions are crucial for understanding the body of work of each one.
Having started in 1981 with Francisca, an adaptation of Fanny Owen (1979), the collaboration between Oliveira and Agustina lasted until 2005, with Espelho Mágico [Magic Mirror], an adaptation of A Alma dos Ricos [The Soul of the Rich] (2002). In between, there were eight
other texts by the writer that inhabit the director’s oeuvre, which includes three novels, two dialogues, a theatre-play and a speech read by Agustina herself.
In order to think about the relationship between literature and cinema, it appeared to us to be useful to promote a discussion about a vast range of scientific and para-scientific knowledge, as well as about other even more obscure, because only these can illuminate a field of knowledge that is essentially made up of intuitions and paradoxes, inversions of meaning and perplexities. The clash between words and images, between novels and films,
calls for other confrontations to be made, which we seek to explore in the exhibition. It opens up an interstitial space, the place of the aesthetic and the symbolic, where all this ancient or modern knowledge is brought into play.
Whether this dialogue is written or figurative, it may well express the most fruitful fraternisation and partnership in the world of Portuguese arts and letters of the last one hundred years.
Curated by António Preto, Director of Casa do Cinema Manoel de Oliveira
Mecenas da Exposição