Voyage to the Beginning of the World (1997) - full transcript

Manoel is aging film director who travels with the film crew through Portugal in search of the origins of Afonso, a famous French actor whose father emigrated from Portugal to France and in...

"To master the chaos of oneself."


Dedicated to the memory
of Marcello Mastroianni

I know what you mean, Judite,

but you cannot, I know,
ignore the age difference

between you and me.

You are unconsciously ageist,

you tolerate me

the way young people
tolerate old people nowadays.

You don't understand, Manoel.

I didn't say that.

I respect you enormously,

not just as a person
but for what you are.

An important director.

Exactly. As Duarte says,
an important and old director.

- You're twisting things.
- I am not twisting anything!

Your kind head would see life
other than as it is.

My dear actress,

the different layers of life
are impermeable to one another.

There you go!

What I like most about you

is your penetrating wit,

your gift for analysis.

That's good, Judite,
you really speak well.

What about the wrapping?

- Wrapping? What's wrong with it?
- The mortal wrapping is...

Because the mind is fine,
it can even improve,

but the wrapping deteriorates.

I even use a walking-stick now.

There you go again!

That is how it is!

You need a stick

because you fell
and twisted your ankle.

You both talk so well!

You pity me, don't you?

No, not that!
You're being sentimental.

Talking of which, I recon...

that between an actress
and the director

there's always an undercurrent.

I mean, in general.

Yes! In general!

But usually, Afonso,

the undercurrent

is between the young star
and her seducer.

In that case,
age differences don't count.

You may laugh,
but it will happen to you.

Old age and illness
keeps people at bay.

Not to mention the opposite sex.

Young people want young people

and leave older people,

old wrecks,

as the road
beneath our wheels leaves us.

Come now, my dear director,

my poor little wreck,
don't make me cry.

I'll shut up now.

I shan't, my dear actress.

Some people would happily
see one in the grave,

buried alive.
I don't mean you of course.

That would be hurtful.

I couldn't hurt you.
Though some would love it.

For different reasons. Jealousy!

Talking of which, tell me,

if you heard I'd said
unpleasant things about you,

which I haven't,

would you believe it?

Really, Manoel!

Let's talk about something else.

Yes, let's.

Soon, my friends,
we shall see places I once knew well,

I haven't been here for ages.

So... it's not just Afonso.

This is memory lane for our director,

he too is killing his "saudade."


My father spoke of "saudade!"

Yes, memories beckon.

That's why you have come.


That's what I've felt
since coming to Portugal,

a desire to know what I've never seen

but which me father spoke of.

What, exactly?

Things from his childhood,

when I was a boy in France.

Can you remember it at all?

You don't forget those things.

It's as if I'd lived in places
where I've never been.

How strange!

That's atavism for you!
Memories which come to life.

Like volcanic lava.

Like what is happening in Sarajevo.


Sarajevo is all over the world!

"Apocalypse Now!"

There's the School.
Opposite Caminha.

See, Afonso, over there,
among the houses?

It's a long way away.

The river's very wide.

Now I see it,

the building with three towers, right?


I was a border there,
for 3 or 4 years.

We were woken at 6.

In winter, it was freezing,

our hand were frostbitten.

I was ten or eleven.

I was in the bottom class

and my brother, Casimiro,
who was about a year older

was in the second class.

We only saw each other on Sundays.

We'd chat for an hour
and stroll around the cloister.

It was called Colegio de La Pasaje

because it was on the road
through La Guardia.

They were
former Jesuits from Campolide

expelled under the Republic.

Now it's in Lisbon,
it's called S. Jo?o de Brito.

It's been moved to Caldinhas.

My sons went there.

And the pretender to the throne

who got married last year.

Oddly enough, all the republican
dignitaries were there.

Outside the church
Royalist flags were waved.

- Your name's Duarte too!
- Nothing to do with the royal family.

Will the King return?

I am born anarchist

and the Republic is 80 years old.

I was born just when
the Republic was founded.

You were born under the monarchy
but you're no royalist.

I don't know what I am.

Perhaps an anarchist like you.

We didn't need the monarchy
to bring back the Jesuits!

Well in Spain the King is back.

Forget the monarchy.
How did they treat you at school?

Discipline was strict!

I was beaten.

There was High Mass everyday.

In a religious school...


How were you treated. Food...

Some days
we were given Spanish tortilla,

it was a speciality.

No old boy would ever forget that.

Were the teachers priests?

All of them. Except the servants.

Jesuits make good teachers.

I was a poor pupil.

I was badly behaved.

Boy did they give me cakes!

- Cakes? They gave you?
- That's what we called them.

Not sweet cakes, no,
these were beatings.

They were merciless.

So you don't miss the place.

My hands still burn.

And when your hands burnt,

did you think of martyrdom,
like tortured saints?

You know, Judite,

it only takes a woman's glance

a certain glance
to make a man a martyr.

What martyrdom is that?

Resisting desire.

Did you never think of the priesthood?

A Jesuit, like your teachers?

Or don't priests have desires?

That question
is indiscreet and perverted.

What harm is there in a vocation?

It's your question which is harmful,

but I shall reply:

priesthood means celibacy

and I should only have to think
of a woman,

a woman like you,

to renounce the priesthood.

Is that a compliment?

Much more than that.

So you sinned in thought!

It's been such a long time!

Have there been other such sins?

Go on, say.

Did you confess your sins?

Every day, I went to confession
and took communion.

We all did, it was the rule,
for all Catholics.

Did you feel better after?

If you're really interested

in my intimate thoughts

we can meet later, alone.

I'm not remotely interested!

I was only comparing,

I was educated by the nuns.

So you know what it is.

Except you're young and beautiful

I am over the hill,

I'm lame and old.

Don't exaggerate,

you must be a masochist.

I am not a masochist,

but I remember when
I was an innocent child...

You seem to have regrets.

- I don't know.
- Really?

But it's good to remember those days.

They won't come back.

Don't you know either, Judite?

I'm using the binoculars.

What for? Are you sinning?

I'm looking at the school!

In the Bible, Judite,
to save Bethany,

seduced Holophernes the Assyrian

and in his sleep
cut off his head.

At dawn, the Army saw
his head on the walls

and raised the siege.

What's that go to do
with the school?

Your loveliness and your name
reminded me.

I am not here to seduce anyone.

I am not like that Judite.

In my school, there was no Army.

Here, there were priests.

They are gone for good.

But the building still stands.

It's not the same.
I don't know what's become of it.

- We're so far from it.
- What do you mean?

Between eras there lies a time
which becomes the present.

Put like that,
I feel cut off from my memories.

I'm the one who's cut off.
This river is not mine.

It's not mine either.

Mine is a river of gold.

River of gold?

One's own always is

but mine is called DOURO

which means of gold.

I see!

This is the MINHO,

it's the border with Spain.

It is wider and darker than mine.

Dark! It feels placid.

It does now.

But on dark winter days,

coming home
from the Christmas fair,

the river seemed frightening.

The waves round our boat
were like in the sea.

A black boat took us across,

when it dipped,
I was only a boy,

I thought we'd all drown.

Have mercy on us!

The boatman was a brave man,
he never stopped rowing.

My childish mind saw us shipwrecked,

I'd tremble as I watched my father.

His calm was reassuring.

It was a boat like that.

The boatman must have been strong!

Not at all!

He was small and tough,
thin and dry,

with a weatherbeaten face.

He just rowed on.

To me,
this little man seemed like a giant.

That, Afonso,
is the citadel of Valen?a.

We are circumventing
the fortifications.

One historian
dates the fortifications

back to a fortified camp

in early Roman times,

but it looks medieval.

Those days are gone.

Yes. Between eras,

there lies a time
which becomes the present.

It was here, I remember.

My father said, "Chico, stop."
Chico was my older brother,

the oldest.

Everyone had nicknames.

My brother Casimiro was Miro

and me, the youngest, I was Nene.

I was almost spoilt.

- It shows.
- Do you think so?

It must be there somewhere.

Don't change the subject.

I'm not, don't distract me.

There was a statue
by the road there,

a little man
with a big moustache.

He was kneeling,
carrying a tree-trunk and trellis...

Here, here he his.

He's been moved.

It's like my moustache in the film.

My father
was in a lot of trouble at the time

no one would help.

This carving is a caricature
on what he was going through.

Good afternoon.

Could you tell me, was this moved?

Wasn't it there, by the road?

Not that I know.

The chap is ancient,
he's always been...

by the house of the man
who made it.

Look what they've done!

Some kids, bad they are,

they cut Pedro Macau's arm off.

- He's called Pedro Macau?
- Yes.

He's got a poem too.

Do you know it?

As it happens, I do.

"My name is Pedro Macau
with a beam on my back,

"Many pass by here,
some white-nosed, some black,

"But none of them sets me free."

What is it? Can you repeat it?

He's still here with his beam,
the poor man.

There used to be a trellis on top

but it was too heavy.

He didn't like is condition...

If he got rid of that bolt...

the trellis would fall
and kill the poor man.

What's she saying?

She says he's very old,
he's always been there.

He's a foreigner!

The man who made it
lived here.

There's a poem about him...
It goes:...

If he moved,
the trellis would fall and kill him.

- Poor man.
- Yes.

That's why he says,
no one sets me free.

Go on, say after me...


"My name is Pedro Macau...

"My name is Pedro Macau...

"with a beam on my back,

"Many pass by here,

"some white-nosed,

"some black nosed,

"But none set me free."

Poor man...

he's trapped.

She's just said
the poor man is trapped.

A thing like this makes a little man
a hero despite himself.

Providing he's brave...

- As your father was.
- Indeed.

Mine was too. I think of him
like the boatman.

Small but tough.

As tough as giants.

Like Pedro Macau.

Why did they give him that name?

I don't know...

Perhaps because it rhymes.

Well, I must get on.

God be with you.

Thank you...

Let's hope he stays here.

That's right. Let's do our best.

The others are crumbling...

As you say...

Life is what it is
and death never fails.

Right, let's go.

We'd drive here in an "Itala."

An Itala?

Yes, "Itala" or "It?la."

Sounds Italian.

The factory's in Turin.

It was my father's first car
after 1914.

I think it was the only one
in Portugal.

Never heard of it.

Our first driver's name was Maia.

Chico started young,
before he had a license of course.

As did Casimiro, and me too.

Those were the days.


Chico was the oldest by nine years.

I was the youngest, still a child,

when he was out painting the town red
with expensive girlfriends,

tarts barely older than him.

Delicious ladies of the night!

They went to
all the smart theatres of Oporto,

in expensive boxes, always alone

to show off their dresses and jewels.

They knew a man's weakness.

They were so lovely,
they trapped men easily.

They were good at love, secretive

and tender,
both by nature and by profession.

They used old men,
madly wealthy ones,

preferably already engaged

so there was more time
for affairs of the head

with young lovers.

I'd join them in their boxes,

my brother would take me
during the interval.

They wanted to see me close up,

they enjoyed little boys like me,

the baby brother
of their lover of the moment.

What did they do to you?

Yes, what did they do to you?

What could they do to me?

Nothing. They played.
They said sweet nothings.

They kissed my face like a mother,

except they weren't like a mother,

they got me all exited.

Ah, this is Pezo...

The Grand Hotel is this way.

The waters here
are good for diabetics.

Not for us then!

We'd better drive in.

The Grand Hotel of Pezo! Look at it!

It's tragic!

I was sitting here with Casimiro,
and a group of girls,

girls... young girls!

Two of them were sisters.

There was a bench against the tree,

we often sat there. There's the mark.
Look, there!

We were young, 15 or 16.

See how time has shifted the mark.
At the time it was there, roughly.

Look where it is now.

There were the girls,

lovely girls,

the oldest...

my brother was in love with her,

they were in love...
young love...

Young love?

Young love is not always innocent.

Innocent or not, they alone know.

But they did cry a lot

when they had to pad.

We left
and she stayed with her family,

the brother was sick with typhus.

I can hear his groans,
up there, on the top floor,

as he went into a cold bath
against the fever,

stifled groans,

audible from the corridor there.

What it was then,

and what it is now!

No garden,

no doors or windows,

only those groans,

engraved on my head
like the mark on the tree.

Poor boy!

You know,

your "saudade" is worse than Afonso's.

"Saudade"? Nostalgia, right?

When you lose your sense of irony.

But you're right, Afonso.

What are these ruins?

The future of a heady past.

Tell me, Judite?

Who would not,
like the boy with typhus,

or anyone else,

look back on a time of good health,

from his sickbed, his hospital bed.

That's true.

Our time is sick...

Like at Sarajevo, without the bullets!

And what a sickness!

Is the world really so ill?

Ill? It's condemned!
It's been poisoned.

No waters will cure it.

No thermal cure, no term for a cure.

Ruins to us, Manoel, not to you.
You can remember.

For you, nothing has changed.

- You're wrong.
- Am I?

All is lost
for him of whom the poet speaks.

- Who is that?
- Who?

He was a native,

the poet tells of his hut on the hill
where he tilled his plot of ground.

The river flowed below.

At dusk, he went down

took a canoe

and crossed over
to where his girlfriend lived.

From his boat,

by moonlight, through the branches,
he saw

his girl with another man.

Sadly, he returned home

to find a landslide had,
in the meantime,

taken everything he had,
his hut and his land.

Thus, the poet says...

"Saudade." A well-known story
by Catulo Searence,

a Brazilian poet,
he's captured a typical mood.

"Saudade and the fallen land."

Excuse me... you too, Manoel.

We're wasting Afonso's time
with our stories.

He's come tome to see
where his ancestors came from.

We'd better get going.

No, no finish the story first.

The poet was speaking
of the native sentiment.

?Saudade and the fallen land,
a portion I dreamt of.?

He means that memory
is a landslide in a dreaming head.

I hope it doesn't happen to me.

Didn't you say you had an aunt
still living?

Yes, my father's sister.
I'm dying to know her.

All this past is yours, Manoel,

it's nothing to do with me.

It's not my father's past.

- My father was called Manoel too.
- What do you mean by that?

The name's the same,
but the story is different.

I don't mean the moods,
I mean in real things

like hunger or cold,

having nowhere to sleep.

I've never suffered that.

I've known anguish,

a strange foreboding

or a deep distress

which frightened me
for no reason.

No reason at all.

Like a nightmare,

specially when I was a child
or a teenager.

And still now?

I don't know.

I know my own story,

as if it belonged in another life.

Make what you can of this,
I cannot say more.

But real deprivation,
such as your father suffered

hunger, cold, being without a roof,

on the contrary, I was loved.

Perhaps that's why I didn't mind
boarding in that school.

Then there was national service.

It was compulsory.

I was sound in body and mind,

but my character was unformed.

I was too sensitive
for military discipline,

I tried to imagine warfare

and how I would behave.

I was born
as the Republic was founded,

I grew up at a time
of revolution and war

but I was hardly affected.

I admit fate
has been kind to me.

Up till now, anyway.

My father's fate was different.

It was hard for him,
really tough when he was young.

What's the village called?
It's near a town...

Near Castro Laboreiro.

There's a breed of dogs called that.
They are almost savage,

because the local bitches
go with mountain wolves.

The village is called Lugar do Teso.

He was not 14 when he left.

- So young!
- Yes, he told me...

It was a cold morning,

I climbed the Falperra Mountains

alone so no one
would try and stop me.

I set out just like that,

with no money,

and only the clothes on my back.

In one hand,
I had a wire with bits of metal

to scare the wolves

in the other, a stick

with a bag of brad on the end.

A stick on his shoulder,
like Pedro Macau?

Like Pedro Macau.

He used to say,
"Son, I've seen it all."

I know the story so well,
it's like it is my own.

He often mentioned his sister,

my aunt Maria Afonso.

- I'm going to meet her.
- You will,

but tell us what you know
about your father.

How did he manage, without papers?

He was in the Spanish War,
he was arrested

first by Franco's side,
then by the Republicans.

I prison, he learnt mechanics.

He bought his release

with money from a cow
his family sold to help him.

So they had no more milk?

They were poor people.

Where did he go then?

He crossed the Pyrenees, to France.

- Illegally?
- Yes.

That must have been hard.

It was very hard at first.

Then he found work in a garage

and learnt to speak,
read and write in French.

He got his papers
after the Armistice, in 1940.

Did he have trouble in the war?

He was Portuguese,
so he was neutral.

After the war,
he set up his own business.

He lived in Toulouse,

he married my mother,
who was French.

My brother Yves
remembers his guitar,

he sang fado,

he died young.

- Who? Yves?
- No. My father.

He died at 40, in a car crash.

He'd left my mother.

And you never came to Portugal?

Us, no.

He came once,
to find men for his garage.

But he was a tough boss,
they didn't stay.

A hard life makes one tough.

Hey! Hello!

Excuse me, where is...

Lugar do Teso?

That way.

It's easy to find.

Take the first road on the left,

then straight ahead.

Thank you.

Were they on holiday?

One of them spoke French?

He seemed like an emigrant.

In these villages, Afonso,

there is always food and drink
on the table.

If you don't have some,
it causes of fence.

I thought I ought to mention it.

We knocked at your door,

they said to call here,
so here we are.

This gentleman is your nephew Afonso,
Manoel's son,

your brother Manoel's son.

Your nephew's an actor,
he's working here.

He is anxious to meet you
and know his father's home.

You say he's my nephew...

but can't speak?

He's born French,
his mother's French,

he only knows French.

I'm French too!
I'm married to your cousin.

I can translate, my name is Christine.

Why are you in black?

One of the family has died,

but women here wear black
when their husbands work abroad.

My father's Manoel,
your mother-in-law's brother.

I've always lived in France.

He says he's your brother's son.

My father was Manoel.

My friends have accompanied me
to meet my aunt.

He asked his friends to bring him
to meet you, Maria.

Why can't he speak our speech?

Because he's lived in France.

I married Joaquim in France,

we used to come for Christmas,
Last time, he asked me to stay

for the children and because
life is cheaper here.

Why doesn't he speak our speech?

Because he doesn't know how to!

He's not been to Portugal before.

He was born in France.

But your brother talked about you
a lot, he wanted to meet you.

His father, my brother,

was always very headstrong.

At fourteen, he left us,

no one could stop him.

He crossed the frontier,

next we knew was a card from Spain
asking for money

because the Republicans
had caught him.

This was during the Spanish War.

He only thought of us
when he needed money.

Money! We had none!

Don't worry, we're not wanting money.

The last time we had to sell the cow,
for my brother's problem.

He came once, many years later.

I didn't recognize him...

He was a tough man,
toughened by the trouble he'd had.

He wanted to see everything,

and he took men with him.

But he was a determined man,

they didn't get on with him,
they soon come back.

Why are we talking?
He doesn't understand!

Why doesn't he speak our speech?

Because your brother
never taught him.

She is desperate,
you can't understand her.

She's telling us things
you know already,

about your father living
and the cow.

He only came back once, so changed

she didn't recognize him.

He took some men with him,

but they returned
saying he was too tough.

Your aunt doesn't see why
you don't speak her language,

she's suspicious.

These people brought him,

he's your brother-in-laws son,

the one who died in France.

My brother Manoel's son.

Any woman would do for him.

And women were unfaithful to him.

Who knows whose son he is!
He doesn't speak our speech!

This gentleman
is your aunt's husband,

your father had many women,

she isn't convinced
you're her nephew,

because your father had women
who cheated him.

That's irrelevant.

When we were born,
my mother had only him.

Only later he had other women.

Yves and I are brothers,

we are your brother Manoel's sons.

We are your nephews.

Afonso says that he and Yves,
when they were born,

Manoel had no other women,
he knows he is your nephew.

But what does this man want?

Is it the fields? The inheritance?

Who is this man,
who does not speak like us?

They seem to have
just inherited some land,

they think you're claiming your share.

I want nothing!
I've not come to claim anything!

I've come to see my aunt,

to hear about my father,

to see where my family is from,

that's all.

He says it's not the fields,
he's not interested.

He only wants to see where he is from.

But why doesn't he speak our speech?

Your aunt says you can't speak...

Even if I could,
I'd only say I'm Afonso,

your brother Manoel's son.
I'm your nephew.

He says never mind
he can't speak Portuguese,

he knows he's your nephew,
your brother's son.

I know what
my father was like with women,

but I'm your nephew,
your nephew Afonso.

He says
he knows about the girlfriends,

and his mother's problems
with your brother

but he knows he is your nephew.

And why doesn't he speak our speech?

In France,
our language is not useful,

his father never taught him.

She's still complaining
you can't speak.

Your nephew's an important actor,
he's on television.

Aunty doesn't like television.

He earns a lot of money.
He needs nothing here.

He wants to know her
and his father's home.

He looks like my brother,

brown eyes like his.

Mine are green.

But why doesn't he speak our speech?

She's insistent about the language.


Who cares about that!


Look my arm.

Tell her to grasp my arm.

He wants you to grasp his arm.

Language doesn't count.

What count is blood.

The blood in my arm

is the same as in your veins.

He says
blood matters more than speech,

the blood in him
is the same as in your veins.

My brother Manoel's son!

Tell her
I want to see the family graves.

He wants to see the family graves.

I have to stop at home,
I'm not dressed for the graveyard.

He must see where his father was born.

It's as it should be, no?

We are like new-born babies,
with an umbilical cord.

We are.

My parents have passed on,
my husband's in France

and I'm here with the children,
which is my duty.

But I long for home and my husband.

- When will he came?
- Not till Christmas.

Why did you not stay with him
in France?

It's too expensive.

We save money here,
my mother-in-law helps me.

Children are exhausting.

Come on children...

I must stay here.

See you later.

Life was tough here,

Manoel, my brother-in-law,

had eyes only for the mountains

beyond which was who knows what...


So we thought, anyway.

He'd say...

I have to know what is the other side,

he said that and left.

Well what there was

beyond the mountains was war

between Franco and the Republic.

Look... there...

those are the mountains...

those mountains.

Life here was always tough.

Hard work and deprivation.

My brother-in-law, his father,

he didn't want that.

His idea was to escape.

People thought this was
a boy's fantasy.

But he found his way.

I see all the letter-boxes
have the same name, Afonso!


And why is that?

We descend
from Don Afonso Henriques,

the first King who saw
Christ with his five wounds

at the battle of Ourique.

Well you certainly know your stuff!

Don't we all need to know
that Afonso founded Portugal?

And Vieira says in a sermon,

"Portugal alone
was born by God's will."

I've heard of Father Vieira.

But my dear sir, if we'd had our way

the Lord would have made
this village luckier.

Here, at Alto do Teso,

we recite some verses
by Cam?es, about Afonso,

which goes like this:

"The high promontories..."

Don't worry...!

"The high promontories weep for him,

"that always
in his kingdom was called

"Afonso! But in vain..."

- We're waiting!
- All right!


Give him some bread.

In France,
are things not well?

She wants to know
how things are in France.

Fine, aunty, fine.

We only ever hear
of other people's wars,

and we worry about
what could happen to you.

Have this bread and...

God be with you.

The bread is for you.

She says they hear of wars
and worry about what could happen.

She hopes
the bread will bring you peace.

Thank her for bread
and her good wishes.

Your nephew thanks you
for your wishes and your gift.

God bless you!

Let him guard you
against wars in the East,

in Croatia or wherever...

And in Africa. Africa too.

Wars never end.

She blesses you

and says she ears about endless wars
in Africa and Croatia,

she's worried about you.

I think she's starting to accept you.

My brother Manoel's son!

Your nephew wants you
to tell him about his father,

your brother,

whatever you remember.

My brother Manoel?

He was strong in body
and strong in mind,

a hard worker and straight.

But all he wanted was to leave.

She says your father was straight,
strong in body and mind,

a worker, he only wanted to leave
to find a better life.

Life here is hard,

a life for poor people,

tiring, cold in winter,

sometimes we go hungry.

She says life is hard here,

it's cold in winter,
they go hungry.

That's all he thought about,
"I have to leave."

He left.

He left alone, without a word,

he was just a child.

Your aunt says he was brave,

no one could stop him
wanting to leave.

Afterwards we heard,
someone who saw him

disappearing, one cold morning,

across the mountain.

He had a bag in the end of a stick.

We heard nothing more.

Long after a letter come from Spain
asking for money to buy is way out.

They only heard from him later,
from Spain,

asking for money to get out of jail.

I know all that my father told me.

I want to know about him here.

He wants to know about here.

About who? Us?

Yes, and your brother.

What can I say?

Your father was brave

and however much
we warned him off,

no one could get him to stay,

he was determined to get out...

And now there's you
who speaks another speech.

If your father didn't teach you
to speak like us

he was a bad father.

What can I say... tell you...?

You know
the life he gave you in France,

no one remember us
in this pan of the world,

who cares about us? Who cares?

We only know what people say.

- Such as?
- Old stuff!

And stuff for now!

Things you don't forget.

- You don't forget?
- That we don't forget.

We're in this lost corner
of the world,

who cares about us?

Listen, during the Great War of 1914

then people remembered all about us.

They came for our boys

to fight with the French
against the Germans,

they didn't come back.
- They stayed in France?

They died. At war.

There was a soldier
from Vila Real or Mur?a,

one of the few who came back alive.

He died not long ago, in his village.

He was up a tree
with a machine-gun, hidden,

shooting at the Germans.
- I remember him well.

He was at the Battle of the Marne,
9th April.

He saved
thousands of French soldiers, Allies,

who remembers that?

Then much time passed

and your father was in France,
another war came

against the Germans again.

Then Salazar sent for us,
but he never gave the order.

We never entered that war, no.

He didn't want it.

But they came back for the boys,
for the colonies,

so many emigrated abroad.

The African war
didn't end till 25th April,

in the villages
only old people remained.

She's talking about the war
and you father in France.

She says they're forgotten

except when they need people
to die in their wars.

She also spoke of a Portuguese hero

who climbed a tree in 1914
with a machine-gun and bullets

to keep the Germans at bay

as the French and Allied troops
desperately retreated.

She says Salazar refused
to enter the last war

but he took boys
to fight the colonial wars,

the only way out was to emigrate.

The African wars
ended with 25th April...

so now there are only old people left.


when we're gone,
who'll farm this land?

We can hardly manage now,
I'm all right... but my husband...!

I can't any more,
my legs weigh too much.

What saves us is the pension.

Without the pension,
we wouldn't last two weeks.

We'd die of hunger.

I'll tell you this,

when we're gone, this land will go.

Young people don't want this.

They want to be in the cities.

This here is ending.

It's back to the dawn of time.

That's it!

In France, it's all with machines.

Our land is no good for that.

Before we had the smuggling
which was a help

but now with this EEC thing

even that's gone.
All we've got is my husband's pension.

Your nephew
doesn't know about farming.

He's a famous actor,
his picture's in magazines.

You've seen him on TV.

I don't watch that thing!

At my daughter's-in-law's
it's put to work, but...

You don't like it.

Like what? It's shameless.

Impudent women

showing themselves naked
before men!

And worse!
I couldn't say it in words,

things to darken the heavens.

TV shows other things too.

they kill each other like rabbits,

there's no respect,

it's whites with whites,
black with whites,

blacks with blacks...

- But television...
- It's the devil's work!

This is of no interest to you.

She doesn't like TV.
She says it's the devil's work!

Ask if we can go to the cemetery?

He wants to see the family graves.

We have to get to the shot!

We must go now.

Now I'll never see you again.

I'll be back.

I'll be back.

And Yves?

I'd like to know
my brother's other son.

He's in France.

She wants you to come back
with your brother.

I'll bring him, I'll bring you Yves.

He says he'll bring you Yves.

Don't forget.

Come back with him.

Don't be too long,

I want to meet my brother's other son
before I die.

She wants you to come back soon
with your brother

so she can meet him before she dies.

I'll be back,

I'll be back with Yves, I promise.

I've never knelt before.

People are happy to crawl nowadays.

Here stay
your childhood memories.


because Afonso's
are way further back.


And yours, Afonso?
What do you make of them?

It's been a strange trip
to an imaginary place,

one my father
described me so often.

It's been like time-travel.

You've embraced your aunt,
body and soul.

Me, even my childhood friends,

my brother Casimiro
and all my friends of that time,

they are all gone.

A long life is a gift from God

but it has its price.

Well, well...

Our director wants a free ride.

How much time do you need?

- Fifteen minutes.
- Everyone's waiting. Hurry up!

You look stranger like this.

Look! It's better this way.

I am Pedro Macau

With a beam on my back.

People pass by

Some with white noses

Some with black noses

And no one will set me free.

No one tells stories like that.

Not even you, Afonso,

you're not quite the same.

You've changed.

Finish your speechifying.
They're waiting.

Let's go then.

Bring your friend along.

You're another Pedro Macau, Manoel.

No one sets you free.

The story of Afonso is based
on the life of Yves Afonso

who, in 1987, worked on a French
co-production shot in Portugal.