Pitoes, a village of Barroso

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Shepherd in the film Pitões, aldeia do Barroso (en Pitoes, a village of Barroso) by Ricardo Costa

Pitões, aldeia do Barroso – en Pitoes, a Village of Barroso – (1979) is a Portuguese documentary feature film directed and produced by Ricardo Costa.


This film is the second part of the tetralogy, "Homem Montanhês" (Mountain Man). It portrays the inhabitants of a remote village in northern Portugal, in the mountain chain of Barroso, where the villagers maintain secular traditions such as communal cooperation. The result is an intimate narrative with no plot.

It is an ethnographic film that could be called visual anthropology. Such films were introduced into Portugal in the sixties and salvage ethnography flourished in the seventies following in the tradition of Nanook of the North, by Robert Flaherty.


Sheltered from the cold winds which blow across the mountains, on a green valley of the Barroso chain, in Trás-os-Montes, Pitões da Júnias is one of the last Portuguese villages keeping in activity a system of mutual help, of communal management and exploration of collective patrimony: the village council, the bread oven, the shepherd, the cattle fields, the “ox of the people”.

In this old community, built on granite rocks, live people who have ever lived there and others: old emigrants from everywhere in the world, who built their lives abroad but decided to spend their last days in the place where they were born. Here they left friends, children and grand-children, with whom they enjoy spending their time telling stories and talking about life. Besides, there are literate children in the village now, playing the game, sliding timidly into the story.

To survive is to know how to face violence, how to live with it: how to kill and flay a lamb, for instance, or how to live with another kind of violence, more eloquent: a giant’s fight, the kind of fight we see between the village bulls. It is impressing. It explains the open smile of the ambassador of the US, who came here as a simple visitor. From one situation to another, from shot to shot, a portrait of everyday life is drawn, of unique and secular moments, still older than the faces of the men who live in this place: vulnerable, threatened in their wealth, vanishing in the mirror. Living people, they live in a fainting world, where time flows softly away, like the slow waters of the river. Just their portrait will be left.

(Cit. producer press-release).


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