Capites de Abril (April Captains) (1997)




Director:     Maria de Medeiros. 

Starring:      Stefano Accorsi (Maia), Maria de Medeiros (Antnia), Joaquim de Almeida (Gervsio), rdric Pierrot (Manuel), Fele Martnez (Lobno), Manuel Jono Vieira (Fonseca), Marcantonio Del Carlo (Silva), Emmanuel Salinger (Botelho), Rita Durno (Rosa), Manuel ManquiZa (Gabriel), Duarte Guimarnes (Daniel), Manuel Lobno (Fernandes), Lus Miguel Cintra (Pais), Joaquim Leitno (Filipe), Canto e Castro (Salieri).

military coup of the left overthrows the dictatorship in Portugal, April 25, 1974, that was established by Salazar in 1933



Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie. 

The story is told by the daughter of Antonia and Manuel.  

April 24, 1974, Lisbon, Portugal.  Rosa says good-bye to her soldier boyfriend who has to report to his unit.  She works for a school teacher named Antonia, who is married to a captain in the military.  She is at odds with her husband Manuel.  She is a leftist activist and she criticizes her husband, condemning him for razing villages in the Portuguese colonies in Africa. One of Antonia's students, Emilio, has been arrested by the repressive Portuguese government. 

Another captain named Maia is a central actor in a planned government coup.  The group he works with is referred to as the Captain's Movement. 

Antonia has a brother who is a minister in the government.  General Pais informs him that the Caldas rebellion has been quelled. 

Maia talks to the soldiers under his command and gets them to back the planned coup.  Major Gervasio tries to stop him, but Maia pushes him to the ground and yells at him:  "You let your men die in Angola."  Maia tells the men that there is to be no more massacres in Guinea, Mozambique and Angola. 

Antonia wants to organize an escape for Emilio who is being held at Caxias.  Her friend Gabriel tells her that he had to enter through one of her windows because Pide's agents are watching.  Emilio is accused of working with the Revolutionary Movement for the Liberation of the People.  To get more information from the student, Pide agents torture him. 

A signal song is played on a radio station that lets the plotters know that the coup has started.  Manuel and some men under him take over the government radio station.  The rebel soldiers surround the main government buildings in the center of Lisbon.  Later they receive news that General Pais is attacking the rebel forces on Arsenal Street. 

Col. Chamarro comes to the government radio station to tell Manuel that the government has won and that he will help get Manuel and his men out of harm's way.  Manuel does not believe the Colonel and the rebel troops arrest him. 

Gen. Pais approaches with tanks.  Lt. Labao and Rosa's soldier boyfriend try to negotiate with him, but the General just strikes the two rebels.  Maia then tries to negotiate with the General.  He has no luck with the General but he does get the General's men to come over to the rebel's side. 

Maia learns that President Caetano is hiding in the Carmo Square barracks in the center of Lisbon.  The people of Lisbon start applauding the now rebel tanks.  Antonia and Gabriel come out to celebrate with the people.  Antonia runs into Maia and thanks him for what he has done.  He tells her that her husband Manuel was the one who captured the government radio station.  Rosa sees her boyfriend and they reunite.  Antonia goes to the government radio station to see her husband.  She tells him that she read his diary and now knows many of the horrors that were inflicted by the Portuguese soldiers on the villagers in the African colonies.  Antonia also confronts him about an African lover and child.  She is informed that they are both dead. 

Some of the Pide agents open fire on the civilian crowd backing the military coup.  Maia tries to talk President Caetano into surrendering to him, but he delays as much as he can.  With a bullhorn, Maia informs Caetano that he will give him ten minutes and if he has not surrendered his troops will open fire on the building.  Having no luck, the captain goes in to see President Caetano.  Caetano tells him that he will surrender to General Spinola. 

General Spinola arrives.  He puts Major Gervasio in charge of the rebel troops.  The President is put in a tank and taken to the airport.    

The political prisoners are released.  Manuel sees Antonia smooching with her student Emilio.  He leaves. 

Manuel and Antonia separated two years later.  Both had brilliant political careers, she with the Socialists and he with the Center Right.  Now Antonia lives with a young American businessman in Lisbon.  Manuel goes to the hospital with cirrhosis and chronic depression.  Maia adopted two children and died after a long illness.  This story is dedicated to him.


Good movie, but it did drag at times.  It could have been shortened a bit with no damage to the story.  It tells the story of the overthrow of the repressive Salazar government in Portugal by the military.  This is an important story to tell.  The only thing that bothered me was if wife Antonia was such a political radical, why did she ever marry her soldier husband Manuel?  It was a good ending politically, but not socially for the three major characters involved.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 


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