Film Screening 31st May, 2018

Poster for The Ornithologist (O Ornitólogo)

The Ornithologist (O Ornitólogo) 

7:30 PM, 31st May, 2018

  • MA
  • 118 mins
  • 2016
  • João Pedro Rodrigues
  • Paul Hamy, Xelo Cagiao, João Pedro Rodrigues, Han Wen


Fernando is an ornithologist tracking down an endangered species of stork in the remotest forest in Portugal. His canoe capsizes and he is rescued by two Chinese missionaries, who ask for his protection, claiming that they are under a curse. Then they do more than ask: when he awakes the next morning, he finds himself trussed up, and his hosts are determined to carry him with them on their travels.

And this is the point at which the film starts to get weird – not in the behaviour of the three characters we’ve met so far, but in the land they travel through. The three seem to be moving through eerie, primeval places, with the atmosphere laid on so thick and so effectively that we don’t ever think: ‘For Pete’s sake, Portugal is a modern country with 10 million people, and it’s part of the EU.’

We might as well be seeing a lost country of the distant past or future. It’s spectacular to look at on a big screen, and fascinating to watch the humans look more and more out of place against nature as they continue on their – and, subsequently, our – strange journey.

Henry Fitzgerald