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.
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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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DISCLOSURE: I am a volunteer content editor at MUBI