“Alas! A Woman That Attempts the Lens”

Gender and the Art of Adaptation in Margarida Gil’s Relação fiel e verdadeira

  • Hilary Owen University of Manchester
Keywords: auteurism, 1980s, feminism, film, Portugal


In 2021, Margarida Gil’s debut longa metragem, Relação fiel e verdadeira was finally released on DVD by the Academia Portuguesa de Cinema, thirty-four years after it premiered. In 1987, it had met with a predominantly negative critical reception from the mainstream press, an unfortunate fate for a film that was not only pioneering for its subject matter and cinematography but was also Portugal’s first screen adaptation by a woman director of a female-authored text. This article explores some of the dominant questions surrounding the gender politics of Gil’s film and women’s position in Portuguese cinema culture in the early 1980s. I argue that the film reterritorializes the literary adaptation genre, which was a mainstay of national (male-authored) heritage on screen, not least through the ways in which Gil uses mirrors and reflections to install, and empower, a resistant and interrogatory feminine perspective in key images and scenes.