Journal Article

Archive, Memory, Forgetting

Publication

Abstract

Luz Obscura opens in silence with a black frame. A preface in white letters conveys the historical context of Portuguese fascism (1926-1974), the horrific results of Salazar’s dictatorship (1932-1970), including the long term incarceration of generations of ‘Communists’, and the transnational trauma of the colonial war (1961-1974). Similar to the previous two film, Natureza Morta. Visages d’une Dictature (2005) and 48 (2010), Luz Obscura (2017) involves the viewer in a material, critical and poetic enactment of rare archival images and fragments of oral history to invoke a complex time period that is painfully present and therefore rarely addressed in public life. This time, de Sousa Dias closes in on the history of a single Portuguese family and the memories of three siblings. The childhood of Isabel, Rui, and Álvaro Pato was marked by the longing for their absent parents and the ever present threat of the PIDE/DGS. The blurred PIDE record of their younger selves in prison yards suggest a horrific replacement for missing family albums and domestic relations that never happened. Telling moments of silence and the voice as sound become prominent features in de Sousa Dias ‘montage of temporal depth’, a method she developed for the previous film 48. The constraints of looking back, of engaging with material vestiges such as photographs or ruins are expressed cinematographically through conveyed gestures of emotional struggle. The time-space assigned to each testimonial fragment depends on these extra-discursive articulations when speech is halted, when the filmed body is at the center of the cinematic record, or when hesitation and pauses convey their own sonic traces.

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Details

  • Status:
    In press
  • Type:
    Journal Article (peer reviewed)
  • Journal:
    Docalogue, web journal: https://docalogue.com/april-luz-obscura/.
  • Language:
    English

About the Author

Malin Wahlberg

Dr. Malin Wahlberg is a Professor in Cinema Studies at the Department of Media Studies at Stockholm University. Wahlberg received her PhD at Stockholm University in 2003 and have since then published work in the fields of classical film theory, do... Read more