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Changing Tides (docufiction)

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File:Manuel Pardal e capataz.jpg
Manuel Pardal (right) Manuel Pardal with a friend facing the foreman

Changing Tides (Mau Tempo, Marés e Mudança – 1976) is a Portuguese feature-length film by Ricardo Costa, his first docufiction, preceding Bread and Wine (O Pão e o Vinho) (1981) and Mists (Brumas) (2003). The central character of this film is Manuel Pardal, a repentista an improviser poet, who practices oral poetry while oral tradition typical of the southern regions of Portugal, Alentejo and Algarve. In the director's filmography, Changing Tides is succeeded by two other docufictions : Bread and Wine (O Pão e o Vinho) (1983) and Mists (Brumas) (2003), the first film of the trilogy Faraways (Longes [1]).

The settlement of the Portuguese territory has always been the result of migrations, which extended over the centuries, as a result of colonization, to Brazil, taking with it not only social but also cultural habits. Popular poetry was one of them, reproducing there on a large scale.[2][3]

Manuel Pardal (pardal means sparrow), fisherman and native poet, plays the star in Changing Tides. This film and a book publication of his poetry, Em Cima do Mar Salgado (On the salted sea), 1977, are unique documents of his existence.[4]

In the director's filmography, Changing Tides is succeeded by two other docufictions : Bread and Wine (O Pão e o Vinho) and Mists (the first film in the Faraways (Longes) trilogy). In television format, the film is divided into three parts : 1 – Bad Weather (Mau Tempo), 2 – Tides (Marés), 3 – Change (Mudança). The feature premiered on RTP in 1977, integrated into the sequel Threshold Sea (Mar Limiar), in three separate episodes.

File:Pardal-close.jpg
Manuel Pardal looking at us

Synopsis[edit]

Manuel Pardal, a fisherman in the Algarve village of Quarteira, is an illiterate poet, like almost all popular improvisers in the Alentejo and Algarve. Like the well known António Aleixo.[5] He is the only fisherman poet in Portuguese popular literature. Manuel Pardal fishes in his rowboat, to which he adapted an outboard motor, as many others at that time did. The engine allows film to travel considerably longer distances along the coast. He fishes by line or with gillnets to catch small fish or big ones. From experience, he knows where to go, east or west, more sheltered or more offshore. And thus he makes his living.

He is a philosopher. Loneliness and the waiting times in the silence of the sea make one think. And Pardal thinks a lot, which strengths his sense and his knowledge : something that is not a privilege of the literate, as Manuel Viegas Guerreiro says.[6] And he never fails in the lyrics : not in the rhyme not even when staging the person he is. He is a straight talker, even when reciting poems or singing fado. Whenever someone challenges you, you enter the game. And here he is, cheerful, telling old stories that shame modern times.

Historical background[edit]

The movies Changing Tides, by Ricardo Costa, People from Praia da Vieira (Gente da Praia da Vieira) by António Campos [7] and Trás-os-Montes by António Reis and Margarida Cordeiro [8] are three Portuguese docufictions from the same year. The first docufiction films made before in Portugal are Maria do Mar (1930) and Ala-Arriba! (1942) by Leitão de Barros and also Rite of Spring (Acto da Primavera) (1962), by Manoel de Oliveira.

The Act of Spring is a filming of the traditional performance of the crucifixion of Christ, according to text from about the 16th century, played in Easter by the folks of Curalha, small village of Trás-os-Montes. The film Trás-os-Montes is a documentary created from a strong idea of poetic fiction, which forces documentary to go beyond its limits. Gente da Praia da Vieira and Changing Tides go into fictional mode in another way. First, by choosing the theme : the fishermen living in Algarve. Second, by approaching this theme not from a purely documentary idea, that is, filming "life as it is", but also introducing fictional situations into it. The theme of Vieira beach fishermen is also addressed, besides Campos, by Ricardo Costa in his first documentary feature, Avieiros (1975/76), in which there is no fiction, but just and necessarily certain technics of mise-en-scène, without exceeding the limits of documentary. Any of these films explores the techniques of cinéma vérité, which developed from the sixties, with notable representatives in the United States, Canada, and France.

These films are pioneering works in their genre, as docufiction. Interestingly, the thematic perspective common to all of them, from different countries, is the life of sea people :

  • 1926 – Moana, by Robert Flaherty, US
  • 1930Maria do Mar by José Leitão de Barros, Portugal
  • 1932L'or des mers [9] by Jean Epstein, France
  • 1934 – Man of Aran, by Robert Flaherty, GB
  • 1942Ala-Arriba!, by Leitão de Barros, Portugal
  • 1948La Terra Trema, by Luchino Visconti, Italy
  • 1963Pour la suite du monde by Pierre Perrault and Michel Brault, Canada
  • 1976Gente da Praia da Vieira, by António Campos, Portugal
  • 1976/77 – Changing Tides, by Ricardo Costa, Portugal
File:Pardal-encalha.jpg
Manuel Pardal returns from work and prepares to bring up his boat onto the beach

Credits[edit]

  • Script : Ricardo Costa
  • Producer : Ricardo Costa / RTP - 1976/77
  • Camera : Ricardo Costa
  • Sound : Maurício Cunha e Jorge Melo Cardoso
  • Editing : Alice Cruz
  • Sound and music editing : Jorge Melo Cardoso
  • Studios : RTP
  • Film format : 16 mm b/w
  • Genre : ethnographic documentary (docufiction)
  • Length : 90 min. aprox.
  • Premiere : RTP, 1976/1977
File:Pardal-fado.jpg
Manuel Pardal singing the fado in the tavern

Cast[edit]

  • Manuel Pardal, his family and people from Quarteira

Festivals and special screenings[edit]

  • Mostra de Cinema Documental – O Algarve Documentado (Documentary Film Show) in Quarteira, Algarve, August 12,14,15, 2010) [10]

See also[edit]

  • Cinema of Portugal
  • Art Cinema
  • Visual Anthropology
  • Ethnofiction
  • Novo Cinema (See 1960s–1970s)

References[edit]

External links[edit]


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