No, or the Vain Glory of Command
Director: Manoel de Oliveira
Year Released: 1990
Several troops from the Portuguese military, including Second Lt. Cabrita (Luís Miguel Cintra), Cpl. Brito (Luís Lucas) as well as soldiers Manuel (Diogo Dória) and Salvador (Miguel Guilherme), who are protecting "overseas provinces," discuss conflicts their country has been involved in (with each of them taking on multiple roles in the flashbacks), starting with Celtic warrior Viriato and going all the way through the death of Prince Afonso and the "disastrous" Battle of Alcácer Quibir in Morocco. I'm not a historian so I can't tell if it's completely factual or if De Oliveira playing fast and loose with actual events, but it is intellectually engaging and surprisingly philosophical: he dedicated it to his grandchildren, which makes me wonder if he was attempting to "educate" them about their nation's past errors and highlight the evils of colonialism. It's playful too - one section is even inspired by Luís Vaz de Camões' epic poem The Lusiads, where explorer Vasco da Gama and his crew encounter nymphs. Is it trying to do too much in a limited period of time? Possibly, but his heart is in the right place, and it brings to mind the following passage from British soldier and poet Siegfried Sassoon: "Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin / They think of firelit homes, clean beds and wives."