Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 April 2021
‘Vive le cinéma!’Manoel de Oliveira –
Honorary Palme d’Or acceptance speech
‘Oh, memory, mortal enemy of my repose!’Don Quixote –Miguel de Cervantes
This book proposes to articulate the relationship between the history of modern Portuguese cinema and broader political, social, and commercial variables. My main purpose is to track the evolution of Portuguese cinema in the period between 1960 (the beginning of the decade of the New Cinema movement) and 2010 (the height of the economic crisis that suddenly left the country in a challenging position) from a socio-cultural and economic perspective. Paying special attention to the post-1974 decades, this book provides an overview of the last forty to sixty years and looks in depth at the identity of Portuguese cinema and the economic reality(ies) in which it has found itself inserted. This is a work on the development of this cinema, within and outside its national borders, in which the object of study is not a corpus of films (understood as aesthetic objects), but rather its market context, as well as its political and social environments.
Throughout this book, I will look further into the reasons for both the real and the symbolic absence of Portuguese cinema from national and European circuits, along with its commercial problems. To a large extent, the driving force behind this project has been the urgent need to quantify the historical difficulties that Portuguese filmmakers have faced during this period and thereby understand the origin and characteristics of those obstacles. Indeed, I aim to identify, analyse, and clarify the causes of the precarious situation in which Portuguese cinema has found itself over the past decades. For the sake of balance, some isolated cases of success are taken into account to understand the broader framework from a holistic perspective.
There is often a mismatch between data harvested from box-office takings and the reactions of critics to given films and their impact at international festivals. Therefore, another goal of this book is to assess the extent to which the dichotomy between ‘mainstream cinema’ and ‘festival cinema’, as well as the criteria used to attribute cultural value to cinematographic works – which may then be sublimated into monetary value –, have had an impact on the aesthetics of Portuguese cinema.