This film, made as a "twin" of A ilha dos amores, was planned as a poetic documentary on the enigmatic life of Wenceslau de Moraes (1855-1929), the great Portuguese writer who lived in the Far East. Verbal testimony, photographs, manuscripts, images of Lisbon, Macao, Kobe and Tokushima in Moraes' time are set side by side with A ilha dos amores and with de Moraes' writings. The director, Paulo Rocha, visited places where Moraes was still remembered, interviewed the writers descendants, consulted archives, rummaged through memories, appointment books, postcards, diaries and calendars from the private life of the 19th century. And above all he set out on a new journey, from Lisbon to Macao to Kobe until he reached Tokushima, where Moraes lived through the final ruin of his life and where Rocha tracks down, between the city and the cemetery, the living presence of places and the memories of individuals.
"Two of the finest films on Japan in the Eighties were made by the Portuguese Paulo Rocha. A ilha dos amores and A ilha de Moraes are lengthy tribute-studies of the life of Wenceslau de Moraes, a Portuguese poet who loved Japan and spent much of his life there. [...] These films, after a gestation period of more than ten years, are the extraordinary outcome of their director's two loves, for Moraes and for Japan (and the title plays on the anagrammatic relationship between amores and Moraes), with Rocha in the end identifying totally with the character he is studying, chasing the same phantoms, the poets two lost loves, Oyoné and Ko-Haru. 'Have you ever known a Ko-Haru?' asks an old Japanese woman who had known Moraes. This is the last scene in the film, and Rocha seems by this time to be prepared to remain on the island of love. (Marco Giusti, "Il Patalogo 7", 1984)
Director of photography: Antonio Escudeiro, Yoshihiro Kono, Ryoichi Sakai.
Editor: Masaji Kurokawa, Takao Saotome.
Music: Paulo Brandão.
Sound: Mamoru Komari, Tsutomu Honda, Akira Kurosu.
Collaborazione speciale: Yasuari Hangai, Sumiko Haneda.
Interviste a: Ekiji Matsumura, Jakucho Setouchi, Armando Martins Janeira, Adelaide Moraes Costa, P. Manuel Teixeira, Wenceslau de Couto, Emiko Akagawa, Yújun Washino.
Production company: Suma Filmes.
Director of Production: Etsuko Takano, Manuel Guanilho, Katsuhiko Takemura, josé Maria Gomes.
Prima proiezione pubblica: Festival di Venezia, 1984.