Surrealist film based on a nightmare. Arsène, a lonely and restless young man suffering from persecution mania, tries to protect himself from thieves – and from himself – by setting traps in his home. Helplessly he assists in the robbery and looting of his house by a couple of kleptomaniac girls, whom he has deliberately taken to his house. Fascinated by them, during the night he becomes his own executioner and the plaything of destructive childhood fantasies. Thus the prediction of the traps seller who had diagnosed his “fear of being robbed” is fulfilled.
Oliveira’s fourth feature, adapted from a play by his close friend José Régio, was one of his major breakthroughs as a filmmaker: a fable about a deeply sheltered young woman who tells her wealthy, religious parents that she’s been impregnated in the wake of an angelic visitation. It’s possible to take Benilde, or the Virgin Mother as a scathing denouncement of religious hypocrisy, a veiled response to the abuses of the Salazar regime, or a set of obsessive, carefully staged formal exercises—or some combination of the three.
A teenage girl, Jessica, befriends a teenage boy called Tom, who is bullied by a local gang. She is abused by Jack, who is both her neighbour and school teacher, and Tom is sexually abused by his father. Together they bond in the woods, creating a private reality that no-one else can enter.
Sarah, an actress nearing 40, has invited the woman who has been her best friend for 16 years and two younger women to her vacation retreat in Provence. There are the simple pleasures of lounging in adjacent hammocks, the sun, the food, conversations about men. This is prologue for what happened a year ago in Paris with a man Sarah has long taken for granted as a platonic friend. She had just finished a film, also finishing her liaison with the director, and was about to get an award and start work on a new film and begin a romance with a German writer.
Sonya is the inheritor to the riches of a Czech noble family – the Hajns. Petr, a social climber marries her, ignoring the shady goings-on, especially an insane uncle who prowls the mansion thinking he is invisible, a peccadilo the family seems to bear with and entertain. The mad uncle stalking every corner of the house, popping out of cupboards and curtains slowly takes its toll on the young bride.
The story of a man who finds himself in a hospital with a suspicion of a serious illness. He is rethinking his life so far, and his encounters with close and foreign people also create the image of the society of the 1960s, full of hope and disillusionment. The author raises here the basic problems of human existence, questions of freedom, loneliness, non-communicativeness, the search for the heroes’ own identity and their place in society.
The paths of people from various countries cross during the course of one night. They speak different languages, but they are fatefully bound together by the solitary quest for happiness and deliverance. Sloping paths are all that’s left for them in an age of lost perspectives, lost refuges and lost homelands. They sink deeper with every movement that should be liberating them. Every gesture of love becomes a gesture of humiliation. The desperate dance of their life has become a passionate dance of death.