On Dec. 11, 1908, when Manoel de Oliveira was born, Teddy Roosevelt was the U.S. President, Mark Twain was still working on his autobiography, and sliced bread hadn’t been invented. D.W. Griffith had just begun directing the one-reelers that would define the visual vocabulary of motion pictures. The Portuguese filmmaker’s life, which ended April 2 at the astonishing age of 106, spanned virtually all of movie history, of which he was an important and unique part.
Simply surviving to his supercentenarian years would be achievement enough, but Oliveira remained active and vital — more active, more vital — as his age increased. He hit his stride in his 60s, with the 1972 drama Past and Present, and directed some 30 fiction features, and more than a dozen shorts...
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