3 January 2011 | paul-1722
Captures The Essence Of Lisbon
As an eighteen year old in 1983, I ended up in Lisbon on a fairly aimless wander around the Iberian peninsula on the railway network, and simply fell in love with it. I stayed for a while to explore the city and surroundings and ended up with a rich mental image of the sights and sounds of this beautiful city.
When I came across a reference to this movie, I simply had to buy the DVD. Interestingly, I see that the intention of the movie was to capture the spirit of the city, and thankfully it does not do so from a touristic point of view.
It captures Lisbon at an interesting time for the country, some 20 years after the revolution and 8 years after Portugal joined the European Union. And also at a time where it was modernising fast. A few years prior to the shooting of this movie, there were very old buses and the old trams (Eléctricos) ran just about everywhere and up impossibly narrow and steep roads where you could reach out and touch the houses. Now, there are just a couple of heritage routes, and these are the eléctricos featured in the movie out of necessity. Today, the transport system is completely modernised and I can see the point of the movie in trying to capture the spirit of a city before it changes out of recognition.
The use of the group Madredeus to provide the music is, I think, quite inspired. To make a movie about Lisbon could have turned into a 'yawn' if it had used a cliché of Fado. Thankfully it didn't and used something more contemporary. And what a group! The music is haunting, so much so that I have now gone off and sought out their CDs! Teresa Salgueiro reminds me of those Portuguese girls I met as a youth, she is just perfect for the part.
As has been mentioned by another reviewer, the movie is a bit self-indulgent in an 'arty' type of way, but it IS entertaining.
Finally, I prefer the movie with the subtitles turned off. The movie has a pan-European flavour with various languages popping up and intertwining. I suppose I benefit that I can grasp the gist of Portuguese when it is being spoken, and the German in the movie is basic enough that most of us will have absorbed some of it from movies and TV. Teresa Salgueiro's voice is very clear to understand when singing to those who are trying to understand the language, and is a real pleasure to listen to. To someone who may never have visited Portugal, the use of children who are fluent in English might seem odd, but in general, the Portuguese (well, in Lisbon, especially so) have always been good English speakers and I find it entirely natural to find Portuguese schoolchildren who speak English as well as Portuguese.