Val Abraham

Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal, 1993


This sequence is built by Oliveira as painter’s work on the red colour. At the beginning of the extract, red is kept very discreetly to the corners of the frame. Just like the two other small pink stains in the foreground and in the oratory plan. Red patiently awaits its turn and the right moment to invade the screen. After Bovary goes away, the filmmaker remains alone with Emma playing with the roses and this enables Oliveira to create a painting in process with his scene. Each shot is like a red touch put on the screen’s canvas by Oliveira. The actress moves to the background in the shot where the focus is put on the roses invading the screen whilst Emma is blurred in the background. Then we only see her hands, the red rose being central in the shot. When he comes back a second time to this rose shot, even the set has disappeared, the flower’s bright red stands out in a pure way from the completely black background.

Thereby, Oliveira plays as well with the white cat who bristles at the watchdog’s aggressivity and then becomes a delicate little white pictorial shape. At the end of the extract, another cat comes in the living room, a black one; he only kept the white paws from the previous cat.