Long un-screened in the United States, Paulo Rocha’s The Green Years and Change of Life are two key entries in the Portuguese New Wave. Both have been restored by the Portuguese Cinematheque.
Before beginning his feature-filmmaking career, Rocha worked as an assistant to both Jean Renoir and Manoel de Oliveira.
Widely considered the founding text of the New Portuguese Cinema, Rocha’s The Green Year’s reflected a new attitude in the wake of post-Salazar modernization of urban life in the 1960s. Nineteen-year-old Julio heads to Lisbon from the provinces and gets a job as a shoemaker for his uncle Raul. But when he meets Ilda, a confident young housemaid who becomes a regular shop visitor, his working-class values collide with the bourgeois trappings of modern life. Rocha subverts melodramatic conventions by avoiding easy psychology or clearly defined goals, and favors mise-en-scène over narrative, reflecting a country at odds with its national character. Never before released in the U.S., Rocha’s debut film, gloriously shot in black-and-white, is an extraordinary and haunting coming-of-age film. (1963 / 91 minutes)
You can watch The Green Years right here, right now!
Rocha’s second feature, Change of Life, is a masterpiece of “sculpted reality,” using fictional conceits and non-actors cast as themselves to create an ethnographic portrait of Furadouro, a remote Portuguese fishing village. The dramatic premise, about a soldier returning home to a place that has changed in both subtle and obvious ways during his absence, serves as a pretext for Rocha to respectfully examine the specificities of Furadouro’s people, their daily routines and rituals, and their evolving relationships with the village’s history. (1966 / 90 min)
You can watch Change of Life right here, right now