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When Cinema Forges the Event: The Case of Torre Bela

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This article discusses the unique significance of the film Torre Bela (1977), by the German director Thomas Harlan, in the history of cinema produced during the ongoing revolutionary process (known as the PREC - which stands for 'processo revolucionario em curso') that succeeded the military coup in 1974 in Portugal. The film follows a group of peasants occupying a large estate in the centre of Portugal. Harlan and his crew played a crucial role in the flow of the events captured on camera, despite being invisible in the film. In this context, cinema is understood not as a mere passive observer that records events, but as a driving force of the revolution, creating a new social reality that emerges from provoked encounters between protagonists acting as political agents for the first time. In Torre Bela to be an actor or agent of revolution and to shoot a film are two sides of the same coin.
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Keywords: Carnation Revolution; Manique do Intendente; PREC; Portuguese cinema; Thomas Harlan; Torre Bela; manipulation; militant film-making; observational documentary

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2011

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