The Past Tense of Our Selves: Um adeus português in 1980s Portugal

Sérgio Dias Branco


The central topic of João Botelho’s Um adeus português (1986), is memory in 1980s Portuguese society. The film alternates scenes from 1973, during the colonial war in Africa, with scenes set in 1985, in rural and urban areas of Portugal. In the present essay, I argue that the film enacts the need for a conversation among the Portuguese by opting for a structure that puts its own elements in dialogue. I analyze the film’s stylistic features while also contextualizing it within 1980s Portugal. This study is anchored in five themes: war, race, class, labor, and religion.


Portuguese cinema; João Botelho; social history; memory; colonial wars

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