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Mysteries of Lisbon and intermedial history-telling

Nagib, L. ORCID: (2017) Mysteries of Lisbon and intermedial history-telling. Aniki: Portuguese Journal of the Moving Image, 4 (2). pp. 375-391. ISSN 2183-1750

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Mysteries of Lisbon is the most overtly commercial of the Raúl Ruiz’s outputs, which remain otherwise the privilege of a niche of select aficionados. Granted, Mysteries of Lisbon is the lengthiest film Ruiz has ever made, consisting of a monumental adaptation (4h26min as a film, 6h as a TV series) of Camilo Castelo Branco’s eponymous novel in three volumes, in which interconnected narrative strands multiply wide and deep across generations. However, all of these strands in the TV series and most of them in the film come to a logical resolution, the whole wrapping up with the romantic novel’s traditional closure, i.e. the death of the hero and first-person narrator. Rather than the result of an open-ended work or “opera aperta” as Umberto Eco (1989) had defined the modern, porous narrative following one’s life path and inconstancies, then, the protracted length in Mysteries of Lisbon is the result of the chosen genre, the feuilleton, both as adopted in Castelo Branco’s nineteenth-century novel and in its contemporary spin-off, the televisual soap opera. However, the film displays a myriad intermedial procedures, which on the one hand contribute to move the various plots and subplots forward to a coherent conclusion, but on the other serve as distractions, even disruptive elements, preventing a sense of progression and calling attention to the reality of the medium and. My hypothesis here will be that these self-reflexive procedures, questioning the medium and its hierarchic position among other media, also bring storytelling close to reality and history-telling by creating holes in the narrative mesh through which the spectator can catch a glimpse of the incompleteness and incoherence of real life. In this context, the film’s constant intermedial morphings become “passages” to the real, through which drawings, paintings, sculptures and murals change into live action and vice versa, silently subverting the idea that the story could have one single end, or an end at all.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:70374
Uncontrolled Keywords:Raúl Ruiz; Mysteries of Lisbon; World Cinema; Intermediality
Publisher:AIM - Associacao de Investigadores da Imagem em Movimento


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