Tabu: Time Out of Joint in Contemporary Portuguese Cinema



Gilles Deleuze, Miguel Gomes, objet a, saudade, time


“The time is out of joint.” So says Hamlet in Shakespeare’s play. For Gilles Deleuze, Hamlet’s words anticipate a revolution in philosophy that will be replayed in the history of film where time is no longer subordinate to movement but movement to time. In films made after the Second World War, Deleuze famously holds, the movement-images of classic Hollywood cinema gave way to direct time-images, images of time as duration. In the history of Portuguese cinema, this change was anticipated in the films of Manoel de Oliveira. It is followed, in the modern Portuguese cinema of Miguel Gomes. In his latest film, Gomes deploys time-images to present what is experienced as loss in contemporary Portuguese culture. Specifically, Gomes gives us images of a paradise experienced as lost which was never really paradise in the first instance. This sense of loss can be helpfully characterized in terms of what Jacques Lacan has called the objet petit a. Drawing from Deleuze and Lacan, we will treat the paradise represented by Gomes as an object cause of desire trapped in time and experienced as lost in contemporary Portuguese culture and film. The time is out of joint in Tabu for the characters who act out its narrative as well as for the target audience for this film. Gomes has made a film that brings us into contact with that loss and with a longing (saudade) that will never and can never be satisfied.




How to Cite

Carvalho, J. M. (2014). Tabu: Time Out of Joint in Contemporary Portuguese Cinema. Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image, (5), 113–126. Retrieved from