Linhas de Wellington (Lines of Wellington) 2012
A Franco-Portugues film detailing the beginning of Peninsular War in Portugal, Lines of Wellington contains no battle scenes–save one brief moment in a flashback. It is rather a film set during the war and more about the consequences of war.
Films that have subtitles are a challenge to some audiences, but I rather like them. How a culture views itself can often be seen, if only in part, through its films. In this film the primary language is French, but Portuguese and English are heard and sometimes within a single line of dialogue a mix are spoken so a keen ear is needed.
I cannot say that this is a good film although it is clearly well made. The multitude of characters and story lines make this feel more like a novel than a movie. The plots that have power are undercut by their brevity while others with little apparent point just distract. Lacking a traditional climax, Lines of Wellington can be viewed more as a tapestry or a painting might–as a blending of multiple intentions to create a panoply of meanings some strong some weak. The strongest message of this film is that war destroys and creates ripples of destruction far beyond the battlefields.
Chilean director Raoul Ruiz died during preproduction and his widow completed the film–but not after John Malkovich(who played Wellington) was offered the job and turned it down. This film was distributed both as a 180 minute film and as a television miniseries.