Rite of Spring

This lovingly restored second feature by the now famously veteran De Oliveira probably shouldn’t hold the attention – it simply records, documentary-style, the performance of a 16th-century passion play by the inhabitants of a Portuguese mountain village – but it does. That’s partly because De Oliveira plays it so very straight: showing the performers’ preparations, the audience and his own crew means that our own era is made to coincide with those of the play’s setting and its creation, while using long takes allow us eventually to become wholly immersed in the raw power of the performance so that it almost begins to seem ‘real’. More than half a century after it was made, the film feels strangely modern – and not just because its colours remain so subtly brilliant.

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Cast and crew

Director: Manoel de Oliveira
Cast: Nicolau Nunes da Silva
Ermelinda Pires
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