Gentes que Nós Civilizámos / The People We Civilized

(Documentary, Portugal, 1944, 18', BW, Fr ST)

by António Lopes Ribeiro

Gentes que Nós Civilizámos


Interesting, almost ethnographic, sequences on peoples of southern and central Angola, show the diversity of their customs and the richness of their cultures. The images often of quality are not devoid of a dominant look that frames them as exotic. The Euro-centric commentary on the exaltation of “lusitanity” is rather paternalistic and even contemptuous:  “All these peoples are Portuguese and love Portugal, what a wonderful destiny it is for this country that came to civilize them and lead them on the paths of spirituality after having opened the roads of the world.”

Film Author :

António Lopes Ribeiro
António Lopes Ribeiro

António Lopes Ribeiro (1908-1995) is a major filmmaker of the Estado Novo. In the 1930s, he was influenced by the modernist aesthetics of German and Russian cinemas. And he is a fervent and constant supporter of Salazar. Together with António Ferro, ideologist of the regime, he considers cinema as a tool for education and propaganda. Lopes Ribeiro directed the great political fiction of the Estado Novo: A Revolução de Maio (1937), historical and popular fiction (O Pai Tirano, 1941) and dozens of documentaries. Notably the one on The Portuguese World Exhibition (1941). He produced the Camões (1946) by Leitão de Barros and Aniki Bobo (1941) by Manuel de Oliveira. In 1938-39 he directed the imposing Film Mission in the colonies of Africa, launched by the Overseas Agency, which aimed to produce a series of films on the occasion of President Carmona’s trip. He will bring back several documentaries from which he will integrate sequences in his fiction feature Feitiço do Império (Spell of the Empire), 1940 whose sound was lost. The two selected documentaries are very representative of his colonial work: a certain interest, particularly sensitive in images, associated with a theme characteristic of the colonialist attitude of the time.

Other movies: Season France-Portugal 2022

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