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This biographical drama was made especially to gratify devotees of the life and work of the 19th-century Portuguese writer Camilo Castelo Branco. Chief among the writers' admirers is this film's director Manoel de Oliveira, who has devoted two earlier films to stories by him.
Branco is considered to be one of the greats writers in recent Portuguese history and was also (like his colleagues throughout Europe) much given to scandalizing society with a string of mistresses. In this film, he is shown to be a self-absorbed individual, much given to bouts of depression. During one of these, he shot and killed himself.