No or the Vain Glory of Command / Non, ou A Vã Glória de Mandar

(Fiction, Portugal/Espagne/France, 1990, 112’, C, VOSTF)

by Manoel de Oliveira

with Luis Miguel Cintra, Diogo Doria, Luis Lucas

No or the Vain Glory of Command


A truck loaded with Portuguese soldiers bumps on a track through the jungle. The soldiers talk about the war, the one they made in Angola in 1974, its meaning, patriotism, fear, their melancholy, the «saudade». The lieutenant leads the story. In this film, Oliveira looks back on the colonial history of Portugal, from the 17th century until the Carnation Revolution, asking questions about the vanity of power and the usefulness of war…


“Oliveira is far from seeking a documentary look that is confused with any model of naturalism or spontaneity. The very passage of decades (and the vision of certain films directed by Oliveira) has made it possible to understand that this is a universe of permanent – and, sometimes, perverse – challenge to the immediacy of things and people. There is always a spirit, a ‘beyond the real’ that Oliveira claims to reach as a sort of bizarre self-criticism of cinema itself – we see what we see, but the invisible is always a present value and, at the limit, desired. To this extent, Oliveira does not have “film-documents” versus “film fictions”: the documentary look and practice of fiction are simply two partners, always involved in a game of thematic and formal ambivalences.” João Lopes (

Film Author :

Manoel de Oliveira
Manoel de Oliveira

Manoel de Oliveira was born in 1908 in Porto, a city to which he remains faithful all his life. His film Porto of My Childhood (2001) is the best illustration of this. He completed his secondary studies in Galicia in a college run by Jesuits, Portuguese refugees in Spain, after their expulsion by the Republic established in 1910. He evokes this period in Voyage to the Beginning of the World (1997). He then worked in the father’s textile factory and in the maintenance of the family vineyards. He made his film debut in 1931 with an avant-garde short documentary, Douro Faina Fluvial, which attracted the attention of French critic Emile Vuillermoz, who urged Oliveira to pursue a film career. But, Portuguese pole vault champion and car racer, Oliveira is a man of many facets, who devoted much of his time to managing family affairs. He still made a few short-form documentary films in the 1930s until he directed his first feature fiction film, Aniki Bóbó (1942). The film was not very well received at the time, but is recognized over time as a great classic of Portuguese cinema, anticipating in several ways Italian Neorealism. More than twenty years later, he directed his second feature, Rite of Spring (1963). It was not until the 1970s, after the end of the Salazar censorship, that he followed the films at a steady pace: The Past and the Present (1972), Doomed Love (1979), The Satin Slipper (1985), The Divine Comedy (1991), The Convent (1995), Anxiety (1998), and Belle Toujours (2006). He has received numerous awards throughout his career, including the Golden Lion for the body of work in 1985 in Venice, the Golden Age Award in 1985 and 1988, the Globo de Ouro Portuguese for best director three times and the Palme d’Honneur in Cannes in 2008. He died in 2015, leaving behind him more than 50 films.

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