Directed byManoel de Oliveira. With Nicolau Nunes Da Silva, Ermelinda Pires, Maria Madalena
Portugal 1962, 35mm, color, 94 min. Portuguese with English subtitles
While location shooting for another film, Oliveira stumbled upon the subject for Rite of Spring, the annual passion play enacted in a village in the same remote northern region of Portugal that would inspire Reis’ most important work. Intrigued by the ritualistic and incantatory qualities of the vernacular production, Oliveira returned with Reis and set about directing the villagers in a re-enactment of the passion play, adding a rich performative layer to the film. A fascinating meta-ethnographic study of local tradition and history that folds in on itself, Rite of Spring climaxes unexpectedly in a furious Bruce Conner style apocalyptic montage that links Christ's death to the violent lunacy of the Vietnam era.