Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
The difficulties endured by Brazilian/Portuguese playwright Antonio Jose da Silva in the early 18th century are the focus of this period drama. After emigrating to Portugal from Brazil, he enjoyed a brilliant career and married into nobility. However, though he was a practicing Catholic, he was of Jewish descent. The Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions never accepted that anyone whose ancestors were forcefully converted to Christianity could possibly be a "genuine" Christian, and they periodically persecuted these "conversos." Near the beginning of the film, da Silva (Felipe Pinheiro) is seen being tortured during his first detainment by the Inquisition. The film also shows his life between that imprisonment and the second one, which resulted in his death at age 32. This is not, however, an excessively gory film, as the explicit details of his tortures are not dwelled upon. It is interesting to note that though the formal instrument of the Inquisition still exists (now known as The Congregation for the Sacred Doctrine at the Vatican), da Silva's death at its hands came well after the end of its most active phase in Latin countries. The production of this film spanned many years; it began in the late 1980s (hence the presence of star Dina Sfat in the cast, who died in March 1989) and wrapped in 1995.