Long before tourists were fascinated by Portugal, internationally renowned filmmakers had already discovered the country's charms. Attracted by the light, the diversity of landscapes and architecture, by the people and traditions, a myriad of directors chose several Portuguese locations as the scenario of their works. The list is extensive but, to help you, All About Portugal has selected 15 mandatory foreign films for you to watch. When we talk about films in Portugal, Lisbon is perhaps the most cinematic city, but you will be surprised to see Meryl Streep in Alentejo, Johnny Depp in Sintra or Gérard Dépardieu in Bussaco! And because there are many ways to explore a country, take on the challenge: discover the films directed in Portugal and recreate your favourite scenes.
Estoril: On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
During World War II, Estoril became the world centre for glamour and espionage. It was during a stay at the Palácio Estoril Hotel that writer Ian Fleming became inspired to create the mythical agent 007. The only James Bond adventure starring George Lazenby was therefore a return home, with hotel employees participating as extras.
Cascais: Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun (1977)
An essential reference among lovers of Invention Cinema (Brazilian Udigrudi), director Jesús Franco often filmed in Portugal in the 60s and 70s. The infamous adaptation of Mariana Alcoforado's letters was shot in Cascais, at the Palace of the Counts of Castro Guimarães, but the Spanish filmmaker filmed in several other places, with special emphasis on the island of Madeira.
Lisbon: The Boys from Brazil (1978)
Franklin J. Schaffner's controversial thriller, based on Ira Levi's book on human cloning, was partially recorded in a charming hotel on Avenida da Liberdade, in Lisbon. The film, considered visionary, was nominated for three Oscars, including Best Actor for Laurence Olivier. The cast also includes Gregory Peck and James Mason.
Lisbon: The Russia House (1990)
Adapted from the work of John le Carré, it gathers all the ingredients of the classic spy film set in the middle of the Cold War. The performances of Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer earned high praise and the film was a success in Portugal. Unique opportunity to watch “James Bond” on an Alfama balcony, overlooking the Castle of São Jorge.
Estremoz: Belle Époque (1992)
When he won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, the Spanish Fernando Prueba left a word of thanks to Portugal. Although the plot takes place entirely in the neighbouring country, the whole film was shot in Portugal, more specifically in Arruda dos Vinhos, Azambuja, Sobral de Monte Agraço and Estremoz. Never has the statuette been so close...
Vila Nova de Milfontes: The House of the Spirits (1993)
To speak of films in Portugal is to speak of this classic, one of the most popular to be recorded in the country. The film adaptation of Isabel Allende's novel, by Bille August, brought Vila Nova de Milfontes, in the Southwest Alentejo, an authentic parade of stars, with names like Jeremy Irons, Glenn Close, Antonio Banderas and the huge Meryl Streep. Monte das Três Marias thus became a Chilean farm to serve as stage for the Trueba family saga.
Lisbon: Lisbon Story (1994)
The German Wim Wenders fell in love with Portugal when, in 1982, he came to Sintra to film “The State of Things”. In 1991, he travelled to Lisbon to shoot scenes for the film “Until the End of the World” and, three years later, returned to sign a passionate declaration of love for the city and the world of cinema, with Teresa Salgueiro and the music of Madredeus as a guide.
Sintra: The Ninth Gate (1999)
Is there a better scenario for a film about secret societies, satanic books and esoteric cults than Sintra and its palaces laden with legends and mysticism? Roman Polanski adapted the novel “The Club Dumas” and captured, like few others, the mysterious essence of the village, while filming Johnny Depp at the Hotel Central, on the road to Pena and at the Chalet Biester.
Aveiro: The Dancer Upstairs (2002)
Fetish actor of two brilliant filmmakers - the Portuguese Manoel de Oliveira and the Chilean Raoul Ruiz - John Malkovich is, since the mid-90s, a confessed passionate and assiduous presence in our country. In his first feature film as a director, he chose Porto, Lisbon and Aveiro for scenarios of an urban guerrilla starring Javier Bardem.
Sagres: The Conspiracy (2008)
The fates of Portugal and Spain have always been intertwined. In the 16th century, the two peoples shared the king - Philip II of Spain, Philip I of Portugal. The choice of Sagres for the setting of some scenes from Antonio del Real's work was not an accident. It should be noted, however, that in the film, Sagres is supposed to evoke Flanders, in Belgium. It's the magic of cinema.
Lisbon: Night Train to Lisbon (2013)
Twenty years after “The House of the Spirits”, Bille August and actor Jeremy Irons returned to Portugal, this time to Lisbon, to film the adventure of a professor obsessed with a book about resistance to Fascism. Embark on a fascinating journey through the streets of the capital, passing by places such as the Santa Apolónia Station or the Belém Pier, among many others.
Lisbon: Casanova Variations (2014)
The greatest seducer of all time lived his last romantic adventure in Portugal... at least in the fiction of Michael Sturminger. John Malkovich is Giacomo Casanova and appears alongside with national actors like Maria João Bastos and Victoria Guerra. In a film that mixes theatre, opera and cinema, the National Theatre of São Carlos is the most perfect setting.
Porto: Porto (2016)
In what was one of the last works of the late actor Anton Yelchin, the director Gabe Klinger shows us the Invicta (city of Porto) like never before on the big screen. Far from the usual postcard, the film shows us a dark city, with an incredible winter light, sometimes with rain, sometimes with fog, always enveloped in a sweet and particular melancholy.
Bussaco: Stalin's Couch (2016)
Built in the distant year of 1885, the Palace Hotel of Bussaco, with its romantic gardens, looks like a fairy tale. This was the scenario chosen by the French director Fanny Ardant to sit an aged Stalin (played by Gérard Dépardieu) on a couch, in tense psychoanalysis sessions with his lover.
Lisbon: Jab Harry Met Sejal (2017)
Bollywood, a mecca for Indian cinema, has fallen in love with Portugal since director Imitiaz Ali filmed this romantic comedy, highlighting Lisbon's unique light and vibrant culture. Starring the superstar Sha Rukh Kha, the film was a resounding success and opened the door to other productions, which have taken place in various parts of the country.