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Snow White

João César Monteiro
Branca de Neve
Portugal 2000 / 75’
The Hips of J.W. Come and Go

Walser was a master in the art of losing beautifully, as well as an artist outside the system who didn't allow himself to be forced into any ideological or literary-stylistic formulas, writes Bartosz Sadulski in "Dwutygodnik". And it becomes clear why Jõao César Monteiro became interested in the Swiss writer's work. Snow White goes radically beyond any stylistic cinematic formulas; made on the basis of an anti-fairy tales, it is itself an anti-film. For most of the screening, viewers see nothing but a black screen while listening to voice-over dialogues involving the main characters: Snow White, the Hunter, the Evil Queen and the Prince. Are these the voices that Robert Walser was hearing when, tormented by psychosis, he ended up in a mental institution? Is Monteiro thus looking into the same depths of a mind overwhelmed by madness? What then are the clearances in the dark that create views of the sky? The last images that the writer saw when a heart attack felled him during a winter walk? The film's opening scenes-photographs of Walser's body-might lead us in this direction. You can see the deep tracks left in the wet snow, his hat lying nearby, his outstretched hand. Snow White is an exceptional requiem for Walser, a brilliant elegy for the author and a bold experiment that tries to see where no camera can reach.

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 (based on Robert Walser's play)
cinematography Mário Barroso
editing Fátima Ribeiro
music Heinz Holliger, Salvatore Sciarrino
cast Maria Do Carmo Rôlo, Ana Brandão, Reginaldo de la Cruz, Luis Miguel Cintra, Diogo Dória
producer Paulo Branco
production Madragoa Filmes
language Portuguese
colouration colour