Portugal’s legendary film director Manoel de Oliveira dies at the age of 106

Portugal’s extraordinary film-maker, Manoel de Oliveira, died this morning at the age of 106. He was the world’s oldest working director – having only recently seen the premiere of his latest film of a 90-year career.

As tributes to his genius and unique passion flooded in, the government has declared two national days of mourning.

Portuguese media is already carrying stories suggesting the old man of national cinema will eventually be laid to rest in the Pantheon – the greatest honour for any deceased countryman.

Oliveira’s unparalleled career saw the film industry move from silent productions in black and white to the frenzied realm of action-packed 4D in full-blaze technicolour.

He directed over 50 movies – the first of which was a short-movie made in 1931, and the last, “O Velho de Restelo”, which only premiered last December.

As was his long-declared desire, Manoel de Oliveira worked almost to the end.

He is survived by the wife that has stood beside him through seven decades of marriage, four children and “various grandchildren and great grandchildren”.

Paying homage to his passing, secretary of state for culture Jorge Barreto Xavier said that Oliveira played a “decisive” role in the construction of Portuguese cinema and its projection overseas.

“He was an absolutely extraordinary man”, he stressed. “A man with an energy, a sense of joy for life who was a beacon for all those who had the opportunity to spend time with him”.

Oliveira himself put his exceptional longevity down to the love he had for his work. “I have the energy of trees that know they are going to die. I am not tired,” he said in an interview back in 2011. “I only feel tired when I am not working.”

Oliveira died at his home in Foz, Porto, a little before midday on Thursday.

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