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God’s Comedy

João César Monteiro
A Comédia de Deus
Portugal, France, Italy, Denmark 1995 / 169’
The Last Dive The Hips of J.W.

An award winner at the Venice Festival, God's Comedy, dedicated to the legendary French critic Serge Daney,is one of Monteiro's most provocative films. In the second part of a trilogy that also includes Recollections of the Yellow House and As Bodas de Deus (1999), we meet his alter ego once again, the director João de Deus (played by Monteiro himself). This time, the skinny hedonist is managing the Ice Paradise, which is owned by a prostitute. In his free time, he looks after his precious collection of female pubic hair (his treasures even include a tuft from Queen Victoria herself). He keeps it in an album proudly titled: The Book of Thoughts. Seeking purity in that which is impure, perfection in what is fundamentally imperfect, de Deus constantly strives for holiness by means of the profane. Challenging public morality as defined in Portugal by Catholicism, Monteiro creates his own alternative cult of eros, with its own sensual rituals and kinky "relics." Earning a screenwriting credit on the film is the great poet and one-eyed outlaw Luis de Camões, whose poem (O MágicoVeneno) is recited-on the toilet-by a girl seduced by de Deus.

Małgorzata Sadowska


Venice IFF 1995 - Grand Special Jury Prize, Best Film (Pasinetti Award)

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, Luís Vaz de Camões (poem)
cinematography Mário Barroso
editing Carla Bogalheiro
cast Cláudia Teixera, Jõao César Monteiro, Manuela de Freitas, Raquel Ascensão, Gracinda Nave
producer Roberto Cicutto, Peter Albæk Jensen, Martine Marignac, Joaquim Pinto
production G.E.R., Pierre Grise Productions, Zentropa
sales NOS Audiovisuais
language Portuguese
colouration colour