José e Pilar

I have ideas for novels and Pilar has ideas for life. And I still don’t know which are more important.

José and Pilar (PortugueseJosé e Pilar) is a Portuguese documentary directed by Miguel Gonçalves Mendes following the last years of the Nobel Prize winner José Saramago, chiefly through his relationship with his resolute wife, Pilar del Río. Highly praised by the critics and the audience, the film seems to have accomplished to show the tenderness, the genuine integrity and the deeply concerned humanity behind such controversial figure and his spouse.

Official Site:  Official site |

Country:  Portugal | Spain | Brazil

Language:  Spanish | Portuguese

José & Pilar


The Elephant’s Journey, in which Saramago narrates the adventures and antics
of an elephant transported from the court of King John III of Portugal to that
of the Austrian Archduke Maximilian, is the starting point for José and Pilar.
This film by Miguel Gonçalves Mendes tells of the relationship between José
Saramago and his wife Pilar del Río.

It shows us their day to day life in Lanzarote, at home and on work trips around
the globe. José and Pilar is a surprising portrayal of an author throughout the
creative process and of the relationship of a couple dedicated to changing the
world, or at least trying to make it a better place.

José and Pilar shows us the hidden Saramago, unravels any preconceived
ideas we may have about the man and proves that genius and simplicity are
indeed compatible. José and Pilar is a glimpse into the life of one of the great
creators of the Twentieth Century and shows us that, as Saramago says, “there
is always another way to say everything.”



  • ” (…) it’s so carefully constructed that at times it feels like fiction, shuttling easily and with a surprising level of intimacy between Saramago, the public persona, and Saramago, the private man.” in Variety (USA).
  • “Miguel Gonçalves Mendes took four years to make this documentary but watching it makes us realize it will last for much longer.” in Expresso (Portugal)
  • “(…) a documentary about a unique relationship (…) you don’t even have to be fond of José Saramago, his books or share his ideology to like José and Pilar.” in Time Out (Portugal)
A fine article to read, in Variety

The world is an order of chaos that remains undecipherable.


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