This is the story of the life, paintings and artistic personality of the great Portuguese painter Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso.
"Amadeo's collages (the mirrors in the picture), his raw material, his vital energy, his idea that the world is a theatrical performance (mask and abyss), all fascinated me. I tried to film that period of his painting in a different style, as though the camera were a brush in Amadeo's own hands, with his colours and his shapes. Mask & Abyss are the two contrasting faces of Amadeo de Sousa Cardoso. The Mask is the masculinity of a dandy, arrogant and intellectual; the Abyss is his hidden, fragile femininity. It is from the struggle between these two that both the film and the body of Amadeo's paintings take their origin. Steel Mask and Blue Abyss are also the titles of paintings, one might almost say of cartoon characters which he created after he came back to Portugal, when the war took him away from Paris. Once again it's the idea of the primordial couple, He and She, barely sketched in Pousada das chagas in 1970 and then developed in A ilha dos amores. What I wanted to do with this title, with its suggestion of a battle, was to recreate the feeling of conflict, of the fever of modern life, of uproar, of scandal and fallen heads, which modern art brought to Europe and to Portugal. This is an Amadeo of the future, lover of German actresses and Slav dancers, friend of Central European writers and composers; an Amadeo living in New York at the end of the Thirties and heralding Campbell's Soup, Pop Art, cartoons, the new images of the Sixties. And besides all this, a Portuguese Expressionist, closely related to Manoel de Oliveira's A caça..." (Paulo de Rocha, file in the Cinemateca Portuguesa, 1988)
Director of photography: Daniel del Negro.
Art director: Luís Monteiro.
Editor: Manuel Mozos.
Music: Paulo Brandão.
Sound: Vasco Pimentel.
Cast and characters: Vitor Norte (Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso), Fernando Heitor, lnês de Medeiros, Miguel Guilherme, José Viana, Henrique Viana.
Production company: Suma Filmes per Secretaria de Estado da Cultura, Radiotelevisione Portoghese.
Director of Production: João Pedro Bénard.
Prima proiezione pubblica: Lisbona, Cinemateca Portuguesa, 30 settembre 1988; trasmesso dalla Televisione portoghese il 20 novembre 1988.