The Nature of Portuguese Cinema: Environment on the Silver Screen

  • Patrícia Vieira Georgetown University
Keywords: Regionalism, domesticated natural sublime, environmentalism, ecology


This article analyzes the representation of nature in Portuguese cinema from the silent era to contemporary productions. I argue that cinematic depictions of the environment reflect the socio-economic and political changes Portugal went through in the past century. Early films showcased natural beauty, together with local traditions, and created what I define as a "domesticated natural sublime." Estado Novo filmography portrayed nature as a godlike entity that could both be the source of adversity and a loving, nurturing mother and presented authority figures as instantiations of this powerful force. Salazarist films also praised the countryside to the detriment of city life, a dichotomous view of the environment that continued in movies from the democratic period. In more recent work, we witness the development of an ecological consciousness, as films meditate upon the relation between humanity and the environment in late modernity.

Author Biography

Patrícia Vieira, Georgetown University
Patrícia Vieira is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, Comparative Literature, and Film and Media Studies at Georgetown University and Associate Research Professor at the Center for Social Studies (CES) of the University of Coimbra. Her most recent book is States of Grace: Utopia in Brazilian Culture.