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For a Limited Time, MUBI Brings Us a Film from Manoel de Oliveira, 104 Years Old and Still Kicking

03.27.13 @ 7:30PM Tags : , , ,

Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira, at age 104, is still making films. He is noted as being the only filmmaker whose career has spanned from the silent era through to the digital revolution. He’s come a long way since his directorial debut in 1931, and now as part of MUBI’s rotating repertoire of films, his 64-minute feature film from 2009, Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl, is available to stream online until April 19th. Hit the jump for more info, below:

Adapted from a 19th century novella by Eça de Queiroz, Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl is the story of an ill-fated romance between a young accountant and a mysterious woman he spies through his window.

I find it fascinating to consider the amount of willpower, spark, and energy it must take to make on average one film a year, even past the age of 100. That’s like Woody Allen on crack! In my book, just in terms of sheer output, Oliveira’s work deserves a look. There’s somewhat of a myth of the ‘perfect filmography’ model that aspiring filmmakers look up to; the vague goal to succeed with your first film, to come bursting strong right out of the gates — but I’m not necessarily a subscriber of that. Create, and keep creating, and that’s what Oliveira’s track record shows us. What keeps him going?

There is no secret – it is work! It is doing something, it is a natural impulsion. You see, nature has given man hunger and this forces him to work, otherwise he wouldn’t do anything. We all get hungry, no matter what age you are. Therefore the elderly are not distinguished from the young because they are both hungry.

Spoken like a true Centenarian, he continues on to say:

Standing still is to die; that is the point. The worst thing would be to do nothing, to be scared of acting. It would be a mistake to stand still, to not try something.

Not a member of MUBI? Check out their free trial, which allows you to watch as many films in their lineup for 7 days. It’s a great website for cinephiles and casual moviegoers alike, with a great built-in community and database.

For someone who is at the beginning of a journey, that is, the lifelong journey of filmmaking, it’s pretty mind-blowing and inspiring to see someone working this far past middle age, senility, and beyond. Manoel de Oliveira is currently working on his 60th film, The Church of the Devil.

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  • As a fun fact, Oliveira stated once he loves vegetable soup and fish soup, so maybe the secret to longevity and hunger for making movies starts also with a good diet ;)

    (On the first line, there’s a common error with a word… it’s “Portuguese”, not “Portugese” …)

    • Fixed, thanks, and you’re too right about good diet. He also said: “Whether we like it or not, it (death) will come one day, but generally people are not in a hurry and I personally have never been in a hurry in my life, this is perhaps why I reached this age.”

    • “so maybe the secret to longevity and hunger for making movies starts also with a good diet”

      that´s true, also he used to practice lots of sports too. Another fun fact is that he started making cinema, stop to work in family bussiness and return later in life to cinema.

      In portugal he is not praised to much (now that´s changing), but in some other europeans countries and in brazil he is considered a giant next to raul ruiz and other great singular filmmakers.

      His cinema is unique, slow paced, a very personal way of playing with the actors, a very conscious and economical use of the camera too. Very odd, for some, to our actual cinematic grammar. Sure not a filmmaker for everyone, and sure not a filmmaker for those that love basicaly the hollywood way of making movies (not complaining here, I love all kind of cinema, from commercial to authoral to experimental, since it´s sincere).

      here one amazing actor, John Malkovich, who worked with both, ruiz and oliveira, talking about them:

  • He’s not just Portuguese born, he lives and works in Portugal, fyi.

  • john jeffreys on 03.27.13 @ 11:18PM

    I was gonna make a snarky comment about how many assistant directors he has to compensate for his senility, but I’m better than that.

    • I’m not his greatest fan, but he is an energetic old man. One of his ADs was my teacher in film school, and going by his stories, he was indeed a one AD man (though that would’ve been back in his 60s and 70s).

  • I’ve been watching his movies for years. Some of them are brilliant. He is for Portugal what Peter Jackson is for New Zealand. He is one of the most interesting film makers in Portugal. I hope he keeps making films for a lot more years to come. Respect.

  • Oscar Niemeyer died at 104 and loved Carnaval. Awesome arquitect.

  • Portugal… Yeah… That´s the way we do it… :-)