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

  • Sérgio Dias Branco Universidade de Coimbra
Keywords: Portuguese cinema, João Botelho, social history, memory, colonial wars


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.

Author Biography

Sérgio Dias Branco, Universidade de Coimbra
Sérgio Dias Branco is Assistant Professor of Film Studies and director of the MA in Art Studies at the Universidade de Coimbra. He is a researcher at the IFILNOVA-NOVA Institute of Philosophy and a participant in the research seminar "The Magnifying Class" at the University of Oxford. He is the author of Por dentro das imagens: obras de cinema, ideias do cinema (Documenta, 2016).