Cinema of Portugal - Silent Films - The Pioneers and The Producing Houses

The Pioneers and The Producing Houses

Three years after beginning is exhibition business, Costa Veiga purchases a movie camera and registers his first film, Aspectos da Praia de Cascais ("Views of the Cascais beach"), with images of King D. Carlos bathing in Cascais. Costa Veiga begins recording official visits and other relevant political events of the nation. He founds the first Portuguese producing house, "Portugal Film", headquartered in Algés, close to his home.

In 1909 are born, in Lisbon, the "Portugália Film", of João Freire Correia and Manuel Cardoso, financed by D. Nuno de Almada, and the"Empresa Cinematográfica Ideal" of Júlio Costa.

João Freire Correia, a photographer, begins his activity by buying a projector for the opening of the "Salão Ideal ao Loreto" in 1904, the first Portuguese movie theatre. He founds his producing company five years later, for which he'll turn several films, such as the Batalha de Flores ("Battle of Flowers") that garnered vast success. He was the operator of O Rapto de Uma Actriz ("The kidnapping of an Actress"), the first scripted Portuguese film, directed by Lino Ferreira in 1907.

Freire Correia however directed two documentaries of significant success in 1909: A Cavalaria Portuguesa ("The Portuguese Cavalry") and the O Terramoto de Benavente ("The earthquake of Benavente"). The first showed already some technique on image capture, displaying the prowess of Portuguese cavalry in such a way as to create situations of danger, fictitious, to the audience. The earthquake was filmed in April, having been shown two days later - a remarkable speed - and with the export of 22 copies abroad.

João Freire Correia would also be responsible for the production of the two versions of Os Crimes de Diogo Alves ("The Crimes of Diogo Alves"), whose direction he entrusted first to Lino Ferreira in 1909 but that remained incomplete, with João Tavares a then directing a second version in 1911.

Of note still the early attempt at sound films with the incomplete Grisette (1908), using the Gaumont method but with the adaptations by Freire Correia, who attempted to synchronize image and sound. Portugália produced also the first film from the adaptation of a literary work. Carlota Ângela was based in the work with the same name by Camilo Castelo Branco and was directed by João Tavares, in 1912.

Júlio Costa, partnering with João Almeida, acquired the "Salão Ideal" from Freire Correia and Nuno Almada in 1908 and starts the "Empresa Cinematográfica Ideal", producer and distributor. Remodelled and appropriately refitted, the Salão Ideal presents a predecessor of the talkies, the "Animatógrafo Falado" (Spoken Animatograph): a group of people reads the texts and produces sound in synch with the film's exhibition. That group was made up by the Volunteer Firefighters of Ajuda, of which not only Júlio Costa but also António Silva, the unforgettable actor of the Portuguese Golden Age comedies, were members.

While waiting for the construction of his studio at Rua Marquês Ponte de Lima, Júlio Costa begins his activity filming "views". He begins filming features with Chantecler Atraiçoado ("Chantecler Betrayed") and then with Rainha depois de Morta ("Queen After Dead"), by Carlos Santos, the first Portuguese film with an historic motif. Júlio Costa's company was also a pioneer for having grouped for the first time production, distribution and exhibition. The company would cease activity after a suspicious fire.

In 1918, "Lusitânia Film" is born, a production company with an ambitious project, led by Celestino Soares and Luís Reis Santos. They rework the old studio of Portugália Film, in São Bento, and begin activities filming documentaries.

Still in 1918, two short films are done outdoors by Costa Veiga and directed by young Leitão de Barros: Malmequer ("Daisy") and Mal de Espanha ("Evil From Spain"). The shooting of O Homem dos Olhos Tortos ("The man with the Twisted Eyes") begins, based upon a police serial by Reinaldo Ferreira, directed by Leitão de Barros. However, due to financial pressures, it would remain incompelte. A well-organized conspiracy would close down the company that intended to film A Severa as its next production.

Closed the "cycle of Lisbon", the first Oporto producer is founded, who would ensure for some years the continuous production of cinema in Portugal.

Read more about this topic:  Cinema Of Portugal, Silent Films

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