Directed by Lies Bodansky, this feature-length film delves into the waters of imagination on a journey of urgent deconstruction and humanization of historical characters and events.
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History was effectively written under a normative view of cis, white, straight, male, colonial, to shape the collective memory. The main characters are immortalized by statues and monuments: solid forms often embodied by the need to express (and perpetuate) power. We get to know these characters not only in public but also at school, where we see them as rigid as amorphous under the simplified duality of heroes and villains. Things are more than what has been (and has been) taught. A well-designed film, in its fluid form (wrapped in a strict time frame), may allow us to get a slightly broader perspective on what happened in the past, who these people were and even try to bridge some of the gaps as to what happened in the past. It was once seen as irrelevant (and summed up in one sentence in a textbook).
This is the premise for PedroNow released in Portuguese cinemas by still. Pedro (4th in Portugal, I in Brazil) went on a trip back to Portugal to fight his brother, Dr. Miguel, to restore the Portuguese throne to his rightful heir: his daughter. through imagination Lys BodanzkiHis film attempts to bridge the gap of what could have happened on this journey: a historical episode that has not been thoroughly examined.
Through Bodanzki’s eyes and Kawa RaymondActing, we get a masterful deconstruction of the “concept” of D. Pedro (always described as a hero), presenting him as a person with many feelings, struggles and flaws. Through a skillful and fast-paced montage that also takes us back to Earth, to his childhood and to the world of nightmares, we see this character gradually disintegrate psychologically, to the brink of insanity. Mostly due to the feeling of lack of masculinity mixed with social pressure. And this particular aspect is in fact an urgent and contemporary statement in character form about the state of the world and the dynamics that govern and sometimes define it: the weak male vanity (or penis problems).
Although D. Pedro is the focus of the film, we get closer to the female characters: D. Amélia (Victoria Guerra), Leopoldina (Louise Heyer) , would say (Isabel Zwaand Carlota GuaquinaLuisa Cruz). Through a well-written, meticulously written script, combined with instant acting and powerful acting performances, we see them in a space of proper expansion. This variety of personalities, generations, and social classes gives us a clear sense of what it means and sometimes still means to be a woman.
As a historical piece, it’s important to highlight how this movie managed to escape the easy trap of trying too much in terms of making things look like we were in the 19th century from a 21st century standpoint. One can easily immerse oneself in this (turbulent) universe thanks to the great art direction, costume design and scripted dialogues mixed with conscious lighting and gentle photography. However, the film’s biggest flaw may have to do with minor details: the lines and the outdated general beauty of the credits and scripts.
We begin and end this adventure knowing that D. Pedro wanted to become a statue (which he did). What Laís Bodanzky has done is create something more fluid and humane: a fairy tale that gives us hints of classes and audiences that might just be a first step to make us rethink the way we learn and look at Portuguese history.
Pedro Produced by Buriti Filmes (Brazil), Biônica Filmes (Brazil) and Oh som e fora (Portugal).