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A Talking Picture
A Talking Picture
Actors: Leonor Silveira, Filipa de Almeida, John Malkovich, Catherine Deneuve, Stefania Sandrelli
Director: Manoel de Oliveira
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
UR     2005     1hr 36min

Effortlessly gliding from graceful travelogue to playful star-driven caprice to trenchant cautionary fable, A TALKING PICTURE is "a majestic and profound work by one of the greatest of all living filmmakers" (Chicago Tribu...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Leonor Silveira, Filipa de Almeida, John Malkovich, Catherine Deneuve, Stefania Sandrelli
Director: Manoel de Oliveira
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
Studio: Kino Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 04/05/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 36min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 7
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, French, Greek, Italian, Portuguese
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A Feast for the Eye and the Mind
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 05/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira at age 96 concocted this strange little film that suggests and artist/philosopher glance over his shoulder about all of civilization and the development of culture and language and then a rather ominous look toward the future. Part travelogue and part captured conversations this film may not be for the movie going public as much as for those who yearn to expand their cultural horizons. It may wander around and lose focus, but it is such an elegant little journey that it bears watching repeatedly.

The time is July 2001. Rosa Maria (Leonor Silveira) is a history professor in Lisbon and takes her young daughter Maria Joana (Felipe de Almeida) on a Mediterranean cruise to Bombay, India where the two will meet up with her husband. They board a cruise ship and for the first hour of the film mother gives daughter a verbal history of teh ports of call. The ship stops at Marseilles (where the first strange famous lady - Catherine Deneuve - boards) and after a walk through the streets of the port, dining on bouillabaise and learning about the Greek origins of the port as an introduction to the world of Greek civilization, the two return to ship. The next stop is Naples (second strange lady - Stefania Sandrelli - boards) and the two wander Naples and journey to Pompeii to see the ancient ruins, mixing information of history and myth, the warmly rich instruction from the mother shares. Then at Athens (third strange lady - Irene Pappas - boards) and the two visit the Parthenon and the Acropolis aided by the friendly information by a Greek Orthodox priest (Nikos Hatzopoulos) who illuminates the sites as well as the differences between Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic religions and symbols. The ship's next stop is Egypt where the two view the pyramids and chat with a fellow Portuguese actor (Luís Miguel Cintra). The final stops include Istanbul, where the cross between Muslim and Christian faith is explained using the great mosque as example, and Tangiers where the two shop and ship's Captain Walesa (John Malkovich) secretly buys a doll for Maria Joana.

Finally back aboard ship Captain Walesa invites the three famous women to his table and there is an extended conversation among the four, each speaking her/his native tongue. This plays like a string quartet as the various melodies are in French, Italian, Greek and English, and the conversation surveys languages, the various cultures, and the joys of communication even in this 'Tower of Babel' setting. The Captain invites Rosa Maria and Maria Joana to this illustrious table the next evening and the Captain asks Irene Pappas to sing. During the song the Captain mysteriously leaves the table only to return with the quiet news that while in the last port terrorists placed time bombs on the ship and asks the passengers to prepare to evacuate the ship. The climax of the movie is jolting and to reveal the ending would destroy the joy of the story.

At first this beautifully photographed film (cinematographer Emmanuel Machuel) appears to be just exactly 'A Talking Picture' with all of the history and travelogue atmosphere. It is with the gradual introduction of the 'three Norns' and the American Captain's involvement that the message becomes more poignant and philosophical. Setting this story in the summer months exactly before the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in New York provides the chilling poignancy that makes this film not the simple tale it first appears. It serves as a shocking reminder how no matter how rich the history of our 'civilization' may be, it is fragile and tenuous in times such as these when random acts can destroy so much we hold precious. In Portuguese, French, Greek, Italian, and English with subtitles. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, May 05"
A Brilliant Movie!
Kristi G., mom of Sage | Rome, GA | 02/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I think it takes a deep thinking intelligence to enjoy this movie. I saw it three times, and each time, I saw more in the movie that I'd missed before.

I homeschool an older child, and the movie is a treat as a tour of ancient Greece. This movie teaches a lot of facts, history and lore about the ancient world.

The first 2/3s of this movie is a visual treat. It is beautiful if you enjoy tours! It IS a walking tour with some meaningful commentary.

The last 1/3 of the movie is a dialogue. That's where a lot of folks get lost. If you've lived in Europe, you will appreciate it more. This long dialog DOES indeed have a purpose. It might seem a bit monotonous - but it is MEANT to. All the major Western cultures are represented - just talking about every day things, certainly not on gaurd. Life is just a bit boring, good - good food, plenty to eat, good company, no worries.

Then at the very end, it all comes together. Time to wake up. The problems of the middle east are spreading and encroaching on the safety and security of the west.

Watch it a second time - listen more closely to the religious overtones in the commentary. AHA!

It was a very thoughtful movie. Some people that don't like to think deeply or politically probably will not enjoy it to the full extent - but the tours are great for everyone.

For parents, other than almost hidden quick violent overtones at the end, there is no blood, no gore in this movie, no curse words."
A Nice Day To Go Traveling
Alex Udvary | chicago, il United States | 06/20/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"It is July 2001, months before the September 11 attacks on the United States. Rose Maria (Leonor Silveira) and her daughter Maria Joana (Filipa de Almeida) are on their way to Bombay to meet Joana's father, who is a pilot. They take a cruise and arrive at such places as Marseilles, Athens and Naples. Rose Maria is a history teacher and loves the fact she is finally able to visit the places she is always teaching about. And she is fascinated by the people she meets and the customs she learns.

At first glance Manoel de Oliveira's "A Talking Picture" seems to be a travelogue piece showing us some of the most beautiful places on Earth. The movie doesn't seem to be about much yet I enjoyed watching the movie.

After you watch the movie try and think back to what happened in the movie. You'll find the movie tells a little story, but, it takes on big subjects. You may also enjoy the film because, like a cruise, it moves at a gentle, calm pace. There is almost something lyrical about the movie. The charm of seeing these destinations and meeting these characters was enough for me to want to finish watching the movie. Some in fact may become so bored with it they won't even wait until the end.

But what is "A Talking Picture" about and why does it matter that it takes place before September 11? Well you see the captain of the ship, John Walesa (John Malkovich) entertains three lovely ladies, all international beauties. They include Catherine Deneuve ("Belle de jour", "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" and Truffaut's "The Last Metro), Stefania Sandrelli (star of several Bertolucci films; "The Conformist", "Partner" and "1900", she also appeared in "La Chiave (AKA The Key)" and Irene Papas ("Z" and "Zorba the Greek"). These four people all speak different languages and yet they understand each other. They talk about world topics, such as politics. At this point in the film the movie addresses terrorism and has a chilling conclusion that makes the movie seem all too real.

I realize after watching the movie some may find the conclusion pointless and ask themselves what was this all about? But if you think it over you will see the movie has a universal message. And its appeal should not be limited to a selective audience.

The movie was nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and is the lastest film from the now 96 year old Oliveira. I have yet to see any of his other films but I could tell just by watching this movie he is a man of extraordinary talent. I hope many of you come to enjoy this film as much or more so than I did.

Bottom-line: Granted the movie is not full of action and moves at a slow pace but it has a certain charm to it that won me over. There is something gentle and calm about the movie. Plus the locations are amazing."
Not incredible, not horrible
nom-de-nick | United States | 01/23/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"WARNING: If you haven't seen this, be aware some other viewers have damn near spoiled the film by giving away too much. Proceed with caution.
But the film definitely has a message, and takes it's sweet time getting it across. That's OK, though; the pace is, as someone else said, as relaxing as a cruse. Granted, some things don't ring totally true, but that's OK; the film makes it point through its fundamental and total normalcy. I do think it ended a bit abruptly, however, despite the plot."