Alias, “The Two”.

Alias (2001-6) belongs to a genre, the action thriller, in which the difference between good and evil is usually clear and reliable. However, this does not happen in this series. The protagonist, Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner), is a double-agent for the CIA and SD-6, which indicates the blurred boundaries between US government intelligence and covert activities and criminal activities. The ambiguity about the characters and the uncertainty about the fictional world are extended to the complex narrative structure and its entangled aspects: time, space, and narration.

Right from the pilot episode, “Truth Be Told” (1.01), Alias experiments with the ordering of events. This episode contains four flash-forwards. The sequence in which the chronological events of the story are arranged in the plot gives us access to glimpses of the future. The frequency, the number of times that any story event is shown in the plot, becomes significant — in “In Dreams” (4.19), for example, Arvin Sloane, the head of SD-6, relives some of his memories. There are other instances in which an initial scene is presented and the rest of the episode is a flashback that leads to it, such as “Mockingbird” (5.04). At other times, manipulations are more structural. Season two ends with an ellipsis. In “The Telling” (2.22), Sydney wakes up two years later not remembering what happened during that time. The omitted interval is then revealed all through the next season, starting with “The Two” (3.01). She needs to know who she was to know who she is.

The screen space is always a selective space that asks us to imagine (or to keep in mind) what is beyond it. Since in Alias the editing usually gives us access to the danger that someone faces, the relation between on-screen and off-screen space is used to create tension. This seems obvious, but nevertheless the series uses spatial design and direction to create images as striking as the mysteries of the story — “Another Mister Sloane” (4.16) is a good example. There are recurrent spaces in the series, the operational bases, the offices of the CIA, SD-6 headquarters, among others, but for the most part the action is expanded to a multitude of countries. This constant dislocation of the action fragments each episode in parts, each one identified by the city’s name. The place of action is global, potentially anywhere.

The narrative information in Alias is usually conveyed through the main character, Sydney. She is not present in all the scenes, consequently, the narration is not restricted to her. Even so Sydney’s explanatory voice-over is heard throughout the first season and the character becomes an internal narrator. Episode by episode, she is turned into a centre around which a group of new characters revolve — a group that includes her mother, her aunts, and her sister. Later, the voice-over disappeared and gave place to a less subjective narration. Narrative absences and limited points-of-view in certain sections abound as well as sudden events. At the end of season four, in “Before the Flood” (4.22), Vaughan, Sydney’s CIA handler, is revealing to Sydney that he is not who she thinks he is when their car is suddenly hit by another vehicle. They survive the crash and Vaughan is taken and then murdered. The introduction of new characters in the fifth and last season carries on the logic of continual narrative reorganization of the series. A case in point is the beginning of season four that is a kind of restart: the characters are working together again in a new unit called Authorized Personnel Only (APO) as if the series has started again. In addition, narrative arcs are interrupted by new ones and sometimes never reach full closure. This discontinuous development plays well with the unstable and unclear characters’ relations and motivations.

What is told cannot be separated from the way it is told. The narrative structure of the series mirrors the ambivalence and unsureness created by the story, generating the permanent feeling that the narrative could have gone otherwise. Yet there is nothing arbitrary about this. The coherence of this structure is stated in the word used as title: alias, a different identity, someone that can pass for another person or who becomes another person. From this point of view, the narration in Alias is mostly unreliable, because there is always something to be added, something we do not know that will change our reading of what we have seen and heard.

Mundo Sur/real (1)


Entr’acte (1924).

La Coquille et le clergyman (A Concha e o Clérigo, 1926).

L’Étoile de mer (Estrela do Mar, 1928).

Un chien andalou (Um Cão Andaluz, 1929).

The Hearts of Age (Os Corações da Idade, 1934).

Kurutta ippêji (Uma Página de Loucura, 1926).

Serão mostrados amanhã nas Sessões do Carvão, os primeiros às 18:30, o segundo às 21:30, na Casa das Caldeiras.

O manifesto assinado por André Breton em 1924 sugeriu que a arte surrealista abre espaço para “a futura resolução destes dois estados — aparentemente tão contraditórios — que são o sonho e a realidade, numa espécie de realidade absoluta, uma surrealidade”. O surrealismo desenvolveu-se no cinema logo a partir desse ano e permaneceu uma força artística e estética vital nas décadas seguintes. Tal vitalidade está ligada ao modo como a arte cinematográfica de influência surrealista se manteve atenta ao real, dele extraindo elementos para o superar, ou seja, repensar, reformular, recriar, transformar. Os exemplos que compõem este ciclo afirmam-se pela sua realidade, entendida como experiência do real a que o filme dá corpo. O desafio lançado por Breton mantém-se actual e dirige-se tanto aos cineastas como aos espectadores de cinema. Será entendendo de que mundo cada uma destas obras emergiu que compreenderemos a sua surrealidade.

Jornada do Património


Sessões do Carvão: “Mundo Sur/real”


22 OUT.

18:30   Entr’acte (1924), real. René Clair | La Coquille et le clergyman (A Concha e o Clérigo, 1926), real. Germaine Dulac | L’Étoile de mer (Estrela do Mar, 1928), real. Man Ray | Un chien andalou (Um Cão Andaluz, 1929), real. Luís Buñuel | The Hearts of Age (Os Corações da Idade, 1934), real. Orson Welles e William Vance

21:30   Kurutta ippêji (Uma Página de Loucura, 1926), real. Teinosuke Kinugasa

29 OUT.

18:30   Rose Hobart (1936), real. Joseph Cornell | Le Sang d’un poète (O Sangue de um Poeta, 1930), real. Jean Cocteau

21:30   Poruchik Kizhe (Tenente Kijé, 1934), real. Aleksandr Faintsimmer

5 NOV.

18:30   Spare Time (Tempo Livre, 1939), real. Humphrey Jennings | Dreams That Money Can Buy (Sonhos que o Dinheiro Pode Comprar, 1947), real. Hans Richter

21:30   L’Année dernière à Marienbad (O Último Ano em Marienbad, 1961), real. Alain Resnais

12 NOV.

18:30   La nez (O Nariz, 1963), real. Alexandre Alexeieff e Claire Parker | Les Abysses (Os Abismos, 1963), real. Nikos Papatakis

21:30   Suna no onna (A Mulher das Dunas, 1964), real. Hiroshi Teshigahara

19 NOV.

18:30   Meshes of the Afternoon (Armadilhas da Tarde, 1943), real. Maya Deren e Alexander Hamid | El topo (1970), real. Alejandro Jodorowski

21:30   Trzecia czesc nocy (A Terceira Parte da Noite, 1971), real. Andrzej Zulawski

26 NOV.

18:30   L’Invention du monde (A Invenção do Mundo, 1952), real. Jean-Louis Bédouin e Michel Zimbacca | Rendez-vous à Bray (Encontro em Bray, 1971), real. André Delvaux

21:30   Céline et Julie vont en bateau (Céline e Julie Vão de Barco, 1974), real. Jacques Rivette

3 DEZ.

18:30   Dwaj Ludzie z Szafy (Dois Homens e um Roupeiro, 1958), real. Roman Polanski | Eraserhead (No Céu Tudo é Perfeito, 1977), David Lynch

21:30   Videodrome (Experiência Alucinante, 1983), real. David Cronenberg

10 DEZ.

18:30   Les Jeux des anges (Os Jogos dos Anjos, 1964), real. Walerian Borowczyk | A Zed & Two Noughts (Um Z e Dois Zeros, 1985), real. Peter Greenaway

21:30   Neco z Alenky (Alice, 1987), real. Jan Svankmajer

17 DEZ.

18:30   The Heart of the World (O Coração do Mundo, 2000), real. Guy Maddin | Os Canibais (1988), real. Manoel de Oliveira

21:30   Barton Fink (1991), real. Joel Coen

O Cinema como Interpelação do País


Sessões do Carvão: “Lisboetas”


“Caminhando para Abril...”


Cinema, Poesia e Escrita


An Acceptable Reference


Breaking Bad, “Over” (2.10).

It was an unexpected and recent discovery. I found out that The Unacceptable, edited by John Potts and John Scannel (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), contains a chapter by Elliot Logan on Breaking Bad (2008-2013) that uses one of the concepts that I have developed in my doctoral thesis: the varied repetition of sequenced units and motifs in television series. Logan also employs the concept of performance motifs, one of the types of motifs that I describe, in his essay untitled “Unacceptability and Prosaic Life in Breaking Bad”. It is a joy to see such a reference and to know that my work on the aesthetics of television fiction series is helpful to others researchers, providing insights into the structure of these works.

CineAvante! 2014


Pelo segundo ano sucessivo, faço parte da equipa responsável pelo CineAvante! em colaboração com dois camaradas: Nuno Franco e Marta Pinho Alves. A Festa do Avante! de 2014 começa amanhã e este será mais uma vez essencialmente um espaço de difusão do cinema português e de celebração de um cinema que se assume como parte integrante do mundo. Quem o cria e o frui está em simultâneo a habitar o mundo e a reflectir sobre os seus conflitos e dramas, recusando extirpá-lo ao que o faz nascer e lhe dá sentidos. Daí a importância que damos à interacção entre os convidados (realizadores, produtores, programadores, entre outros) e os espectadores.

Destaco este ano o programa de filmes que comemora, a partir de diferentes perspectivas, os 40 anos da Revolução de Abril e a homenagem a Vasco Granja, recordação de um militante do PCP que foi o maior divulgador do cinema de animação em Portugal, nomeadamente através do seu programa de televisão emitido a partir de 1974, ano da revolução. Na sexta-feira, será mostrado o documentário The Act of Killing (O Acto de Matar, 2012) sobre o massacre de comunistas na Indonésia, realizado por Joshua Oppenheimer. O vídeo de divulgação está em baixo.