Directed by
João Botelho
Produced by
Portugal Film
| 2020 | 108 Min

Adapted from the tale of adventures of Portuguese sailors heading east to India, China, Japan and so on that beats its name, Pilgrimage has always been a controversial work, accused of historical inaccuracy and initially slammed by the Catholic Church. Botelho is well aware of the book’s ambiguous identity and decides to embrace it, thus creating an equally ambiguous and artificial film object in three chapters, which combines literary storytelling, imagined family stories, theatre-driven performances and musical sequences. Indeed, the most astonishing – and perhaps exciting – aspect of the whole film is the fact that Botelho not only adapts a book, but also seven tunes from an album, Por Este Rio Acima (1982) by Portuguese songwriter Fausto, which was already inspired by Mendes Pinto’s writings. Botelho introduces the songs without their instrumental accompaniment, inviting the supporting actors who play the sailors to sing a capella, in a sort of Greek chorus.