Picturing Porto Portugal.
Updated: Aug 7, 2021
Porto Portugal serves as film location or setting for brief movie summaries in the upcoming book Around the World in 80 More Movies
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, 2001 with Daniel Radcliffe starting his eight-movie run as a young wizard in a magical land. London and Scotland provide most Harry Potter locations(see Around the World in 80 Movies, “Braveheart in Scotland”) and those regions offer various tours dedicated to book and movie locations. But Harry Potter set some roots in Porto, where author J.K. Rowling worked on the book that opens the series. This makes Porto a key location for Potterheads, who revel in the Livrario Lello bookstore and its décor that looks right out Diagon Alley’s Flourish and Blots store. Hints of the Hogwarts school library scatter throughout the picturesque enclave for readers. Porto’s store also provides a chance to refresh Potter movie memories in a viewing room that runs the films continuously. House of the Spirits, 1993 with Meryl Streep and Glenn Close suffering torments from Jeremy Irons and ghosts in Latin America. Author Isabelle Allende wrote about the
family history she knew from growing up in Chile, but the movie version of her breakout novel mushes the mix. This includes filming in Portugal, used as South American locations. Director Bille August creates striking visuals, and her standout cast never fails to hold attention, though it fails to catch Allende’s nuance as a writer. Porto’s ambiance suites other films with Latin American settings, including John Malkevich’s directorial debut, The Dancer Upstairs.
Porto, 2016 with Anton Yelchin finding magical love in Porto. Put on your film class hat for film critic/teacher/director Gabe Klinger’s arty approach to classic cinema art house traditions including elaborate sex scenes and occasional subtitles. Shooting with three different types of film in an era dominated by digital technology, Klinger shows no fear of leisurely shots and talky moments in his story of a couple who experience lingering effects from a one-night stand. Lacking typical leading man looks, Star Trek’s Yelchin suits his role as an ex-pat wanderer and serves as an appealing protagonist— though his untimely death made Porto his last shot at stardom. But the city remains a viable star, its narrow cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and the iconic Luis 1 double decked metal bridge oozing character and romance. Reflecting the city’s status as Foodie Heaven, Porto features two restaurants, but both went out of business even before Covid-19’s damage.
The Xango from Baker Street (A Samba for Sherlock), 2001 with Sherlock Holmes traveling to Rio de Janero and hearing lots of Portuguese. A blending literary and real-life characters allows actress Sarah Berndhardt to bring Great Britain’s most famous fictional detective to solve a theft in Brazil. The case turns grisly when a series of murders ensue. Filmmakers took advantage of Porto’s old world look to capture the story’s1886 setting, with locals easily able to speak the language of Brazil—Portuguese.
O Lugar do Morto, (Dead Man’s Seat), 1984 with Ana Zanatti entangling Pedro Oliveira in a mystery involving death and sex. Portugal’s entry for an international Academy Award (it failed to get a nomination) and the country’s box office champ for a decade, the movie features Porto’s iconic bridge and atmospheric streets to provide a sinister sense of confusion. The Grande Hotel de Porto and the Rua de Julio Denis district appear in the film, though much shot in Lisbon and along the coast. Lacking subtitles, the various bits and pieces available on YouTube provide
a chance to practice your Portuguese.