Screened as part of NZIFF 2008

Christopher Columbus - The Enigma 2007

Cristóvão Colombo – O Enigma

Directed by Manoel de Oliveira

Director Manoel de Oliveira (born 1908) recreates the real-life search of Manuel Luciano da Silva and his wife Sílvia to prove that Christopher Columbus was actually Portuguese.

France / Portugal In English and Portuguese with English subtitles
75 minutes DigiBeta

Director, Screenplay


Sabine Lancelin


Valérie Loiseleux


Ricardo Trêspa
Manoel de Oliveira
Leonor Baldaque
Maria Isabel de Oliveira
Luís Miguel Cintra


Venice, Toronto 2007


Portuguese master Manoel de Oliveira (born 1908) brings a wonderful blend of nostalgic longing and serene amusement to this portrait of a life-long love story. His film is based on the real-life mission of historian Manuel Luciano da Silva and his wife SÍlvia to prove to a doubting world that Christopher Columbus was actually born in Portugal. Their constant trans-Atlantic peregrinations are driven by an erudite love of the long-past era of Portuguese dominion over the seas. They honeymoon in the south of Portugal making their first visits to key churches, tombs and museums. In their 90s (played by Oliveira and his wife) they're still on the move, revisiting key American sites and exploring such recent outrages to their hero's name as Donald Trump's Columbus Circle. Both a charming travelogue and a fondly ironical ode to Portuguese nationalism, it's also a rewarding rumination on commemoration: frail, funny, elegiac and wise. — BG