Frames, Windows, and Mirrors. Sensing Still Bodies in Films by Manoel de Oliveira

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Abstract

In the case of Oliveira’s Doomed Love (Amor de Perdição, 1978) (an adaptation of the homonymous classic Portuguese novel), Bresson’s model theory provides an adequate theoretical model for a melodrama in which characters, ‘hit by fate,’ are following their destinies as if ‘under hypnosis.’ Besides a typically frontal, iconic representation of bodies thoroughly framed by windows, doors, and mirrors, in this and many other films by Oliveira, the intermedial figure of tableau vivant also reveals the movement-stillness mechanisms of the medium of film by turning, under our eyes, the body into a picture. His Abraham’s Valley (Vale Abraão, 1993) is also relevant for a fetishistic representation of (female) feet and legs. This visual detail, somewhat reminding of Buñuel’s similar obsession, is not only subversive in terms of representation of socio-cultural taboos, but is also providing a compelling sensual experience of both the body and the medium.

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Acta Universitatis Sapientiae, Film and Media Studies

The Journal of "Sapientia" Hungarian University of Transylvania

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