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Suddenly My Thoughts Halt

Documentary Film
114 minutes

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Renata Amaro, Rosa Silva
Jorge Pelicano
Frankie Chavez, Irene Orta Cintado
Jorge Pelicano
Jorge Pelicano, Pedro Mouzinho
Pedro Miguel Carvalho, Sara Godinho, Rui Pereira
Granted, celebrating a 131st anniversary may be a little weird, but it suits the setting. We are in a psychiatric hospital in Porto. The film first introduces some of the protagonists – already with stunning cinematography and an editing rhythm that from the first sequence seems entirely focused on the very idiosyncratic truth of this place. How can the thin line between mental normality and madness be described?
Jorge Pelicano uses an ingenious dramatic trick by introducing an actor. Directed by their therapist, the patients are rehearsing a 131st anniversary play. They are joined by Miguel, who plays the part of a 19th century schizophrenic Portuguese poet. More precisely: he plays a hallucinating horse. In fact, he moves into the hospital for two weeks, shares a room and meals, rehearsals and therapy sessions. And he attacks. Observes. Creates situations. Improvises. Inside-outside communication. Madness-normality. Soon we see him galloping through the grounds as he rehearses the hallucinating horse. The longer we follow him and the delightful residents of the hospital, the more we realise: the transition is blurred. And that is testimony to the outstanding narrative quality of this extraordinary film.
Matthias Heeder