Focus on Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon)

Focus on Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon)

The Official Selection of the LUX Prize 2011 also includes Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon). In this Lisbon of intrigue and hidden identities, we encounter a series of characters all somewhat linked to the destiny of Pedro da Silva, orphan in a boarding school. Father Dinis, a descendent of the aristocratic libertines, later to become a hero who defends justice, a countess maddened by her jealousy and set on her vengeance, a prosperous businessman who mysteriously made his fortune as a bloodthirsty pirate; these people and many more cross paths in a story set in the 19th century as they all search for the true identity of our main character.

Raoul Ruiz's Mysteries of Lisbon was awarded at the 34th São Paulo International Film Festival (Critics Awards). The film also received the Louis-Delluc Prize. Receiving it on Ruiz’s behalf,Paulo Branco said: "It’s absolutely extraordinary for a film of this length to get an award like this. It proves that such unusual projects, which lay outside the profession’s expectations, can achieve success. This prize is a recognition of the fact that risk-taking and boldness still pay off in cinema."

Mysteries of Lisbon was presented in competition at the latest Toronto and San Sebastian festivals, with Ruiz winning Best Director at the latter. Ruiz's film took also part to the Official competition at the Munich Film Festival and was in the 28th Turin Film Festival's Figure nel Paesaggio (“Figures in the Landscape”) sidebar.

Chilean director Raúl Ruiz’s Mysteries of Lisbon, one of the most ambitious Portuguese productions of recent years, is adapted from the same-named 1854 novel by Camillo de Castelo Branco, an exponent of literary romanticism.

Producer Paulo Branco once again challenged Ruiz to take on another large-scale project. Together they had previously adapted the work of Marcel Proust, among others. Released in 1999, Time Regained was a visually sumptuous fresco starring an international cast, combining anachronistic narrative time and mixing spaces of action. InMysteries of Lisbon, we see the same aesthetic approach and the same labyrinthine style.

In a video interview shown on the film’s official website, Ruiz says that screenwriter Carlos Saboga has pulled off the complicated task of bringing together all the aspects of the original work “without losing practically anything”. The result is a 4hr 26min-long film, which will also have a television version consisting of six one-hour-long episodes.

The various interwoven plots include the story of Pedro Da Silva (played by 2007 Shooting Star Afonso Pimentel), a young orphan whom we follow from his childhood in an orphanage through to adulthood, and the head of the orphanage, Father Dinis (Adriano Luz), the narrator who travels through time like a supernatural character, with several lives and mysterious pasts.

In a labyrinth of flashbacks and chronological illusions, these two characters find themselves surrounded by dramas, betrayals and forbidden loves so typical of romantic characters, played here by a string of Portuguese actors well-known for their soap-opera roles, including Maria João Bastos, São José Correia, Albano Jerónimo and Ricardo Pereira. The cast also includes French actors Clotilde Hesme, Léa Seydoux, Melvil Poupaud and Malik Zidi.

Via Cineuropa