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The Last Dive

João César Monteiro
O Último Mergulho
Portugal, France 1992 / 91’
Recollections of the Yellow House God’s Comedy

At the waterfront in a port town, Eloi (Henrique Canto e Castro) intervenes to prevent a young man (Dinis Neto Jorge in the role of Samuel) from committing suicide. Over the course of two nights spent wandering, drinking and dancing, the older man, who is desperately searching for the meaning of life, tries to convince Samuel that this meaning certainly exists somewhere. To this end, he also introduces him to the most beautiful prostitute in Lisbon, Esperanca (Fabienne Babe). In time, her friends, Rosa Bianca and Ivone, also join them. The five of them wander the streets of the city, draped with garlands, filled with tables and playing pimba music (all on the occasion of the festival of St. Antoni). The atmosphere of the party is mixed with the melancholy upon Eloi's shoulders, and the bizarre, lengthy scene of their street performance drags an aura of anxiety over the film. Told through a series of long shots, Monteiro's tragicomedy, although seemingly light like a bottle floating on the water, conceals layers of sadness that give every scene depth and intensity.

Małgorzata Sadowska

João César Monteiro

Jõao César Monteiro (1939-2003), one of Europe's most original and at the same time least-known filmmakers, was a director, actor, critic, writer and poet. He studied at the London Film School, though his work can't be attributed to any particular film school. His individual, erudite, eccentric and sometimes controversial films benefit from poetry, philosophy, theater and painting. If you were to look for cinematic inspirations in his work, then Buster Keaton would undoubtedly be one of the key figures for Monteiro. Raised during the time of the Salazar dictatorship, Monteiro aimed his stories, laced with black humor, at the guardians of public morality: the church, the state, the family. He pursued in his first films the sources of national foundation myths before later creating on screen the figure of a profane saint, João de Deus, who owes his name to the patron saint of prostitutes, fishermen and the mentally ill. As Haden Guest wrote, de Deus embodies the contradictions in the Portuguese director's work: an austere dandyism, a religious perversity, a sense of comic tragedy, a type of slapstick fatalism.

Selected filmography

1969 Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen (dokument)

1975 Que Farei eu com Esta Espada? / What Shall I do with This Sword? (dokument)

1978 Veredas / Paths

1981 Silvestre

1986 Kwiat morza / À Flor do Mar / Hovering Over the Water

1989 Wspomnienia z Żółtego Domu / Recordações da Casa Amarela / Recollections of the Yellow House

1992 Ostatnie zanurzenie / O Último Mergulho / The Last Dive

1995 Komedia Deusa / A Comédia de Deus / God's Comedy

1997 Biodra Johna Wayne'a / Le Bassin du J.W. / The Hips of J.W.

1998 Śluby Deusa / As Bodas de Deus / God's Wedding

2000 Królewna Śnieżka / Branca de Neve / Snow White

2003 Odejścia i powroty / Vai e Vem / Come and Go

Cast & Crew

director João César Monteiro
screenplay Jõao César Monteiro, Friedrich Hölderlin (text)
cinematography Dominique Chapuis
editing Stéphanie Mahet
cast Fabienne Babe, Henrique Canto e Castro, Francesca Prandi, Rita Blanco, Dinis Neto Jorge
producer Paulo Branco
production Madragoa Filmes, Radiotelevisão Portugesa, La Sept
sales NOS Audiovisuais
language Portuguese
colouration colour