Born in Portugal on November 16, 1922 – exactly 100 years ago – Jose Saramago, who died in 2010, was one of the most prolific names in Portuguese-speaking literature. Endowed with a sharp look at the social and oralized writing, which subverts punctuation rules, his fiction earned him a Nobel Prize in 1998. Saramago’s remarkable work as a novelist went further, being adapted a few times for screens in different countries. In Hollywood, his narratives won two great versions, commanded by renowned filmmakers, who took seriously the thought-provoking and unpalatable content of the writer’s work. Whether you read the books or not, the movies are worth watching:
Blindness essay (2008)
Where to watch: Available for rent on Google Play
The adaptation of Saramago’s most famous novel went to the big screen under the direction of Brazilian Fernando Meirelles. In the story, an epidemic called “white darkness” causes those affected to see a milky surface. As the plague spreads across the country and the sick are quarantined, public services begin to fail. People, then, need to fight for their basic needs, taken by despair and by their distressing primary instincts. Sweeping, the film stars Julianne Moore, who plays a woman who can still see and faces poignant moral dilemmas. The cast also features Mark Ruffalo, Alice Braga and Gael García Bernal.
The Duplicate Man (2013)
Where to watch: Available for rent on Now, Google Play, Amazon and Apple iTunes
The work published in 2002 by Saramago became a thriller of beautiful photography through the discerning lens of Denis Villeneuve. The director, accustomed to playing with linearity in his films, has fun with the Portuguese author’s thought-provoking narrative. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a history teacher who leads a quiet life until he discovers, watching a movie, a lookalike perfectly equal to him. Thrown into an identity crisis, the character goes after the actor in question, and begins to question his individuality in the world. A plot full of nuances, which unites Saramago’s questioning spirit with Villeneuve’s existential spirit. For those who want to understand the end of the production, it is worth reading the explanation given to VEJA by the author’s widowPilar del Rio.