Doomed Love

Doomed or frustrated love is Oliveira's calling card, and he renders Camilo Castelo Branco's classic 1861 novel, a tale of love that increases as it is thwarted by social mores, with a seductive fidelity to the original work. Made for Portuguese television, Doomed Love went under the radar until a theatrical release enabled audiences to discover its intricate mise-en-scène and sweeping narrative on the big screen; the release was hailed as a landmark in the history of the European art film. In adapting this Romeo and Juliet story complicated by the love of a servant girl for the hero, Oliveira's intriguing style is reminiscent of Japanese theater, rigid formalism sharply contrasting with the violence of the story. Its young lovers separated by family feuds, aristocratic demands, and social mores, the film radically turns the whims, repressions, and brutalities of eighteenth-century Portugal into a mirror for contemporary society. As J. Hoberman noted, “Doomed Love is a minuet staged as grand opera.”

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