Normally it’s my job to show you why you should come to Portugal. Not today.
In case you have been under a rock, you should not travel to Portugal. Or anywhere.
But while we’re self-quarantining, isolating, social distancing or staying the heck home, we can take ourselves there with movies. Is it the same as tasting a warm, fresh pastel de nata? Or as feeling the warm sun on a beautiful beach? Of course not. But in this time of coronavirus and armchair travel, here are some good ways to pass a couple of hours.
Lisbon Story (1994)
Wim Wenders’ sweet, charming love letter to Lisbon follows a hapless director trying to record a film in Lisbon. (It came about after Wenders’s own, earlier attempt to make a documentary about the Portuguese capital.) The film is full of images of many of the city’s iconic sites, narrow streets, and candy colored houses, as well as beautiful music by the Portuguese folk band Madredeus, with captivating vocals by Teresa Salgueiro, who becomes part of the story.
Miguel Gomes’s award-winning film follows two elderly women as they try to find the man that their recently deceased friend had had a passionate affair with in her youth. Much of the filming was done in Lisbon.
Night Train to Lisbon (2013)
Jeremy Irons stars in this romantic, mysterious drama about a Swiss professor who hops on a train to Lisbon after preventing a Portuguese woman from committing suicide in Switzerland. On the way, he reads a book that she left behind, which turns out to be written by a figure in the resistance movement against the Estado Novo. Through flashbacks, the film offers glimpses of life during the dictatorship.
Capitães de Abril (2000)
Speaking of Portuguese history, this film, called April Captains in English, tells a dramatized story of the Carnation Revolution, which put an end to the dictatorship on April 25, 1974.
That Good Night (2017)
This film, starring John Hurt as an ailing screenwriter making plans for the end of his life, was shot in the Algarve, the southern region of Portugal and home to many of its most lovely beaches.
The story of this film revolves around two expats who form a connection in Porto. A mystery remains over part of their experience, and they travel through the city while searching through their memories.
Although it has been criticized by members of her family, this biopic tells the story of Amália Rodrigues, the “Queen of Fado,” who is considered a national treasure.
Plus one more…
And if you’re in the mood for something more timely, Blindness(2008), which looks at what happens when the world is hit by a pandemic that renders people blind, is based on a novel by José Saramago, the Portuguese writer who won a Nobel Prize in Literature.