Limite (film)

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Limite Poster.jpg
Directed byMário Peixoto
Produced byMário Peixoto
Written byMário Peixoto
StarringOlga Breno
Tatiana Rey
Raul Schnoor
CinematographyEdgar Brasil
Edited byMario Peixoto
Release date
  • 17 May 1931 (1931-05-17) (Brazilian premiere,
    Capitol Theatre,
    Rio de Janeiro)
Running time
120 minutes

Limite (Brazilian Portuguese: [lĩˈmitʃi], Portuguese for "limit" or "border") is a film by Brazilian director and writer Mário Peixoto (1908–92), filmed in 1930 and first screened in 1931.

Cited by some as the greatest of all Brazilian films,[1] this 120-minute silent experimental feature by novelist and poet Peixoto, who never completed another film, was seen by Orson Welles and won the admiration of many, from Sergei Eisenstein to Georges Sadoul to Walter Salles. In 2015 it was voted number 1 on the Abraccine Top 100 Brazilian films list. It's considered to be a cult movie. [2]


In August 1929, Peixoto was in Paris, on a summer break from his studies in England, when he saw a photograph by André Kertész. The picture of two handcuffed male hands around the neck of a woman who was gazing at the camera became the 'generative' or 'Protean' image for Limite, in which a man and two women are lost at sea in a rowboat.[3] Their pasts are conveyed in flashbacks throughout the film, clearly denoted by music. One woman has escaped from prison; another has left an oppressive and unhappy marriage; the man is in love with someone else's wife. The unusual structure has kept the film in the margins of most film histories, where it has been known mainly as a provocative and legendary cult film.[4]


  • Olga Breno as Woman #1
  • Tatiana Rey as Woman #2
  • Raul Schnoor as Man #1
  • Brutus Pedreira as Man #2
  • Carmen Santos as Woman eating a fruit
  • Mário Peixoto as Man sitting at the cemetery
  • Edgar Brasil as Man asleep in the theater
  • Iolanda Bernardes as Woman at the sewing-machine


Peixoto wanted to play the male lead himself, and pitched the film to Brazilian directors Humberto Mauro and Adhemar Gonzaga, both of whom said that Peixoto's scenario was too personal to be played by anyone else. Peixoto decided to proceed, and paid for the production using family funds. He filmed in 1930, on the coast of Mangaratiba, a village about fifty miles from Rio de Janeiro, and where his cousin owned a farm.[3] Stylistically, Limite follows a number of great 1920s directors: in his article on the film, critic Fábio Andrade notes the influence of D. W. Griffith, Soviet montage, the German Expressionist works of F. W. Murnau and Robert Wiene, French Surrealist shorts by Germaine Dulac and Man Ray, Robert J. Flaherty, Carl Theodor Dreyer and particularly Jean Epstein, all of which are visible in German-born Edgar Brasil's cinematography. One scene takes place at a screening of The Adventurer (1917 film) by Charlie Chaplin, suggesting another important influence on Peixoto's film.[3]


Limite had three public screenings in Rio de Janeiro between May 1931 and January 1932, receiving little public support or critical acclaim. Its reputation built slowly: Vinicius de Moraes, who later became a prominent Brazilian poet and lyricist, showed the film to Orson Welles when he visited Brazil in 1942 to film parts of It's All True. Other screenings took place in private film societies, alongside works by Sergei Eisenstein and Vsevolod Pudovkin, during the 1940s and early 1950s.[3]

Peixoto died in 1992, aged 83, leaving a substantial body of literary work, alongside unproduced screenplays and scenarios, and a fragment of a planned second feature film, Onde a terra acaba, which was never completed and mostly lost in a fire.[3] Peixoto continued to promote Limite, however, throughout his life. In 1965, he publicised an article about his film, apparently written by Eisenstein, praising its 'luminous pain, which unfolds as rhythm, coordinated to images of rare precision and ingenuity.' Peixoto was vague about the article's provenance, which lacked primary sources, claiming first that it appeared in Tatler and then an unidentified German magazine.[3]

Preservation status[edit]

By 1959, the single nitrate print of Limite had deteriorated due to poor storage conditions, and could no longer be screened - a situation that contributed to its near-mythical status in Brazilian film history. It was stored at the Faculdade Nacional de Filosofia (FNF) until 1966, when the military dictatorship's police force confiscated it, along with works by Eisenstein, Pudovkin and other Soviet directors.[3] Former FNF student Pereira de Mello managed to retrieve the print, later that year; the restoration process began with photographic reproductions of every single frame - the basis for the most recent version, made with the assistance of the Mário Peixoto Archives and Cinemateca Brasileira, which had its American premiere in Brooklyn, New York on 17 November 2010, although a crucial scene remains missing.[1] In 2017, the Criterion Collection issued Limite on DVD and Blu-Ray, as one of Martin Scorsese's selections for their World Cinema Project.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Larry, Rohter (9 November 2010). "Brazil's Best, Restored and Ready for a 21st-Century Audience". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 November 2010.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Limite: Memory in the Present Tense". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Project No. 2". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 2017-08-17.

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