Christopher Columbus - The Enigma

Cristóvão Colombo – O Enigma

Year: 2007
Country: Portugal
Running time: 75 mins
Screenplay: Manoel de Oliveira
Photography: Sabine Lancelin
Editor: Valérie Loiseleux
In Portuguese and English, with English subtitles
DigiBeta/PG Cert

With: Ricardo Trêspa, Manoel de Oliveira, Leonor Baldaque, Maria Isabel de Oliveira, Luís Miguel Cintra

Festivals: Venice, Toronto 2007
Portuguese master Manoel de Oliveira (born 1908) brings a wonderful blend of nostalgic longing and serene amusement to this portrait of a life-long love story. His film is based on the real-life mission of historian Manuel Luciano da Silva and his wife SÍlvia to prove to a doubting world that Christopher Columbus was actually born in Portugal. Their constant trans-Atlantic peregrinations are driven by an erudite love of the long-past era of Portuguese dominion over the seas. They honeymoon in the south of Portugal making their first visits to key churches, tombs and museums. In their 90s (played by Oliveira and his wife) they're still on the move, revisiting key American sites and exploring such recent outrages to their hero's name as Donald Trump's Columbus Circle. Both a charming travelogue and a fondly ironical ode to Portuguese nationalism, it's also a rewarding rumination on commemoration: frail, funny, elegiac and wise. — BG

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