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O Ornitólogo

João Pedro Rodrigues sends an ornithologist on a sensual, surreal version of the Stations of the Cross in the valley of Douro. Fernando encounters a dancing devil, topless Amazonians, and a beautiful shepherd, shoulders blame, performs miracles, ...


A paddler in a beautiful Portuguese river valley watches birds. The sky is blue, the air is clean, the Duoro is dark green and black where the cliff casts a shadow. The great crested grebes dip their heads in the water, golden eagles circle the cliff over the paddler’s head. At times the camera has a bird’s eye view, other times it gazes through binoculars or floats around like an uninvolved eye. This constantly changing, floating perspective is slightly unsettling; a horror film could easily begin like this. As it happens, the creepiness begins soon after: Fernando doesn’t pay attention and capsizes in the rapids. When he wakes up, he is sitting by a campfire with two Chinese women who were actually going to Santiago di Compostela and steered off path. They give him tea. When Fernando wakes up again, he is chained to a train in a pin up-like pose. These are the first stages of an increasingly strange odyssey akin to the Stations of the Cross that leads Fernando deeper into nature and back to civilization in the end. He encounters dancing devils, topless Amazonians, and a beautiful shepherd. He shoulders blame, performs miracles, and sermons the fish. Fernando’s metamorphosis into holy Antonius is filled with inconsistencies and is evocative of the exalted, religious, and mythological images of Derek Jarman’s films. Jarman celebrated absolute artificiality, whereas João Pedro Rodrigues celebrates the wilderness. Christian, mythological, and erotic motifs are superimposed onto images that attest to the danger and sensuality of nature. O ORNITOLOGO is undoubtedly the most puzzling and best-looking film of the summer.


Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: O Ornitólogo
Frankreich/Portugal 2016, 118 min
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Director: João Pedro Rodrigues
Author: João Rui Guerra da Mata
DOP: Rui Poças
Montage: Raphaël Lefèvre
Distributor: Edition Salzgeber
Cast: Paul Hamy, João Pedro Rodrigues, Juliane Elting, Xelo Cagiao, Chan Suan
FSK: 16
Release: 13.07.2017




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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