‘Dreamlike’ is one of those film descriptions that is banded about rather frequently. Personally it’s a word that comes to mind as a way to describe silent movies due to the absence of dialogue. If I had to describe why this is the case…it would be because, compared to real life, the rulebook they use is similar enough to be recognisable yet different enough to feel otherworldly.
Limite is one of the films, however, where dreamlike must be the intention of the director; author Mário Peixoto. Not only is it a silent film, but an experimental silent film. He plays with camera angles, shooting styles and negatives in a way that make ordinary shots of palm trees and dilapidated buildings feel alien.
The plot of the film, if you can call it that, is that we start with three people stuck on a boat. They seem hopelessly lost. The majority of the film is made up of seemingly non-sequential flashbacks to give us more of a backstory into the lives of these three people. One of them is a recent prison escapee, one is mourning the lose of their lover and the other… looking back on it I am not so sure.
Thing is, it doesn’t really matter how these three ended up on the boat. This almost feels secondary to this film and instead the focus is more on the shots than the people contained within the shots. As such I am not sure if this would have worked as well with actual dialogue. The (gorgeous) music is more than enough here.
Interesting to note that for a while Limite was a lost film. It is a film that managed to influence Orson Welles and had available prints for a few decades and then suddenly it was gone.
Luckily for all concerned this did not stay lost for long and there is a restored version that can be watched on YouTube. The more of these 1001 films I watch, the more I realise just how many of these works could have been lost forever. I’m still crossing my fingers that the 1926 Korean film Arirang can be found… but I think we might be out of luck there.