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The Principle of Wisdom (1976)

O Princípio da Sabedoria (original title)


António de Macedo


António de Macedo (screenplay and dialogue), Pere Calders (based in part on a story by)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Guida Maria Guida Maria ... Architect's House-keeper
Sinde Filipe ... Architect / Beggar
Carmen Dolores Carmen Dolores ... Lidia, the woman with broken arm
Nicolau Breyner Nicolau Breyner ... Chiromant
João D'Ávila João D'Ávila ... Bouddhist Monk
Luís Cerqueira Luís Cerqueira ... Man with the Gramophone
José Gomes José Gomes ... Guard of the Ruins
João Franco João Franco ... Mansion's Gardener
Grece de Castro Grece de Castro ... Godmother
Helena Isabel ... Singer
Maria Helena Moedas Maria Helena Moedas ... Maid
Rosa Gonçalves Rosa Gonçalves ... Cook
Luís Monte Empina Luís Monte Empina ... Friar
José de Carvalho José de Carvalho ... Pianist
José Anjos José Anjos ... Adriano - a Servant


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Drama | Fantasy







Release Date:

9 December 1977 (Portugal) See more »

Also Known As:

Das Gelübde See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Tobis Portuguesa See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film is based in three tales by Pere Calders: El principi de la saviesa (O Princípio da Sabedoria), L'arbre domèstic (A Árvore Doméstica), and Cada u del seu ofici (A Cada Um o Seu Ofício). These and other tales had been translated and published in Portugal in the late 1950s by bilingual writer Manuel de Seabra. See more »

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User Reviews

The Principle of Wisdom

What an amazing accomplishment! A movie filmed during the most important year of Portuguese history of the 20th century, 1974. Deeply immersed in the realms of old tales, ancient lore and spiritual practices that last to this day in the innermost regions of Portugal, The Principle of Wisdom is a cultural milestone. Herein are registered some of the most essential traits of the ancient Portuguese soul. All put in contrast with the modern man, the overworked, overambitious, over-exhausted man that is the child of the 20th century. What a clash... And it all takes place in two or three essential places: 1. the big living room of the house, where light enters colored by stained glass, that further enlightens the peculiarities of the inside of man (feelings, emotions, thoughts); 2. the garden, the most central piece of all, where things are lost, retrieved, even the unexpected, the ludicrous, the surreal... and however meaningless anything seems, when revealed through a personal lens, we come to discover purpose, fulfillment, exaltation, achievement... 3. the ruins from ancient times, where we find that the grand human tragedy is a play revolving through the centuries with a big core that remains throughout as its central piece: the human soul and its quest.

All this said I will only add that direction and photography are excellent for the most part of the film (by the end I think it derails a little bit) and the script runs solid throughout. The acting is also very accomplished. If you ever get the chance to see it, don't miss it.

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