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Manoel de Oliveira’s The Strange Case of Angelica

THE MOST EXISTENTIAL OF FILMMAKERS, Manoel de Oliveira has, for decades now, been making every movie as though it were his last. The Strange Case of Angelica, which the 101-year-old Portuguese director premiered last May in Cannes, is one more unique sign-off—drily comic, intentionally stilted, deliberate yet digressive, at once avant-garde and retro.

An amateur who made a silent documentary, Working on the River Douro, in 1931, then spent decades running his father’s lighting-fixture factory—as well as racing cars—and who managed to make only two features before 1970, Oliveira is an artist with a unique career trajectory. He hit his stride in his late sixties, soon after Portugal’s 1974 Carnation Revolution, and became ever more prolific as he aged—making more than half of his movies since turning eighty.

Manoel de Oliveira, O estranho caso de Angélica (The Strange Case of Angelica), 2010, still from a color film in 35 mm, 97 minutes. Clockwise from left: Nun (Sara Carinhas), Isaac (Ricardo Trêpa), Mother (Leonor Silveira), Maid (Isabel Ruth), Angelica (Pilar López de Ayala).

Oliveira initially characterized cinema as a technology

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