5 must-see Portuguese cities where international films have been shot

Portugal is photogenic and extremely scenic. Its climate, landscapes and attractive coastlines make it an increasingly sought-after country for international film productions. The sets once captured by the lens of Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira are now a desire for many foreign directors who choose Portugal to illustrate their work.
Follow us to discover some of the most famous examples.

1. Lisbon

The most revered and visited Portuguese city in cinema is Lisbon, because it would be impossible to choose just one film related to this wonderful city.

“The Russia House”, starring Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer, is one of the films that were shot in the capital. It tells the story of a British publisher, Barley Blair, who is given the notes of a famous Soviet scientist who holds important military secrets. The British Secret Service tracks down Blair in Lisbon and interrogates him about the manuscript, but he does not know the document. The material is intercepted by the spy services and Blair is sent to Russia to find out the truth.

The second film that is reported here is based on the work of writer John Le Carré, it is called “Night Train to Lisbon” and it is one of the films that has best represented the city in recent times. years. It’s a film from 2013, starring Beatriz Batarda, Jeremy Irons and Christopher Lee, where the diversity of landscapes depicts very well the wide range of fantastic landscapes that Lisbon presents to us. In this film you can see Bairro da Bica, the 25 de Abril bridge in a kind of secondary role and even a cemetery, that of Alto de São João, in a tale in which the streets function as a labyrinthine scenario for a passionate and obsessive. look for.

“Os Amantes do Tejo”, in its original title, translated as “The lovers of Lisbon”, is another must-see film that was shot in Lisbon, a love letter to this city in the 1950s. This French film incorporates certain elements of Lusitanian culture where the emblematic Amália Rodrigues stands out. The fado singer is an element of Lisbon’s cultural identity, even including one of her songs in the soundtrack which tells the story of a French taxi driver in Lisbon.

Protagonist Pierre Roubier carries with him the marks of his wife’s infidelity as he ends up meeting a woman who is in trouble with the police. This work was censored by the famous Portuguese “lápis azul” [blue pencil, symbol of censorship of the Portuguese dictatorship]resulting in the omission of more than 15% of the total length of the film.

2. Cascais

The 1969 James Bond film “007 – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” includes several scenes shot in Cascais. At the time, in Costa do Sol, European royalty and cinema’s best-known secret agent, found Hotel Palácio, a historic hotel in Estoril that served as a meeting point for spies during World War II. The film begins with James Bond battling a villain in the wild waters of Guincho, and in other scenes he visits Lisbon, Setúbal and Zambujal, but it’s the spirit of Linha de Cascais that best fits 007’s profile. .

3. Sintra

“The Ninth Gate” is a film by Roman Polanski in which Johnny Depp plays the main character. Some of the action takes place in Sintra and only a few other places could be as well suited to tell such a mystical story. The plot takes us on a journey of centuries-old books, esoteric tales and spooky characters, seemingly tailor-made for the legends of the town and the mountainous ridge of Sintra. In the film we can see Praça da República from where we take a motorbike tour through Pena to Chalet Biester. The main character chooses the iconic Hotel Central to spend the night there.

This supernatural Thriller in Frenchrewarded at European Film Prize in the “World Cinema” category, is based on the romance “Le Club Dumas” by Spanish author Arturo Pérez-Reverte. Depp plays Dean Corso, an antiquarian book collector on the hunt for a rare work of literature. Searching for “The Nine Gates of the Realm of Shadows”, Corso will take a dangerous path leading to satanic themes, always highlighting the landscape of Sintra.

4. Vila Nova de Milfontes

It was the production that brought the most important stars to Portugal. Jeremy Irons stars alongside Winona Ryder and Meryl Streep in the 1993 film “House of Spirits.” The adaptation of Isabel Allende’s classic is set in Chile, thus avoiding any incorporation of Portuguese culture.

It is however the staircase of the Assembleia da República [Parliament] or the Paços do Concelho [City Hall] are easy to identify when the revolution takes place. For this film, the set of a villa was built on Monte das Tres Marias in Vila Nova de Milfontes, of which only the staircase has survived. Apart from the amazing landscapes of Vila Nova de Milfontes and Cabo Espichel, the film was also shot in Denmark.

5. Tomar

A project that took years to execute and during the production phase of which, problem after problem arose. Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” has become an almost cursed project. The co-production between Spain, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Portugal fell into a stalemate when the relationship between Gilliam, Leopardo Filmes and its producer Paulo Branco deteriorated. A giant legal battle developed, centering on the fight for the legal rights of the film, which was concluded with the co-producer Ukbar Films, of Pandora Cunha Telles.

The feature film, partially shot in Portugal, which premiered in Cannes in May 2018, was “cursed” during filming in Portugal, due to a fire that broke out during the recording causing damage to the Convent of Cristo [Convent of Christ] in Tomar, a building that bears the seal of UNESCO World Heritage.

Darcy J. Skinner