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Published on Jan 15, 2011
Portugal's second city and its region at the beginning of the twentieth century. some fascinating glimpses of ways of life which are now long gone.
Saturday, 15 January 2011Porto (Oporto) As with Venice:the Canals, this is a film about a town in which everyday things are happening, a town full of life and people at work. If only Pathé had dated their films! It would be wonderful to say at what date the streets of Portugal's second city still resounded to ox-drawn carts, where four-masted ships still drew alongside the Douro wharves, there women unloaded boats carrying the cargo on their heads. And while the photographer can't resist pretty girls as a subject, we do see unglamorous people in unglamorous clothes, as well as their crowded and worn-out looking dwellings in the old town.
This is also a picture of a world where almost everything is made by hand, from the unique design of wooden boats on the river, through the carved yokes on the oxen to the age-old pump at the well and the intricate sunday-best clothes of the girls of Minho, which contrast so strongly with the everyday clothes seen everywhere else in the film. And these girls are themselves practising a handicraft, spinning, living, like everyone else in the film, from manual work.
This film seems to me to really demonstrate the value of early film as a social-historical source