Cravos de Abril (April Carnations) is a Portuguese historic short film by Ricardo Costa. Covering the events between April 24 and May 1, it portrays the Carnation Revolution, which took place in Portugal in April 1974 and put an end to Oliveira Salazar's dictatorship.
Introduction: the state of the country, the Portuguese Colonial War, the fascist dictatorship.
The first hours of April 24 at Praça do Comércio in Lisbon. Besieging and besieged troops. The unfolding of events during the square occupation. A threatening frigate sails up and down the Tagus river. The rebelled armed forces move towards Largo do Carmo.
The procession of tanks along Rua Augusta is followed by an increasing number of supporting citizens. Forces defending the old regime resist at the Chiado square. The headquarters of the National Republican Guard is attacked by rebels and capitulates. There a crowd of enthusiastic citizens join together inciting soldiers to fight.
Agents from the security service agency PIDE/DGS, Salazar’s political police during the Estado Novo, are arrested. Their headquarters in Largo do Carmo is dismantled. The liberation of political prisoners from the Caxias fortress occurs in the night and the same will take place in Peniche next day, the prison of which will be the new home for the captured agents, the «pides».
The declaration of the revolutionary intents broadcast by the Movimento das Forças Armadas (MFA) illustrated by Siné. Mário Soares and Álvaro Cunhal arrive in Lisbon after their long exiles. The crowd at the «first May 1», the International Workers' Day rally in Lisbon, 1974, is carried away by their speech.
Soldiers are enthusiastically given red carnations by passers on the Lisbon streets. The wall paintings in honor of the revolution. The future in question. (Producer´s citation)Director: Ricardo Costa
Producer: Ricardo Costa
Photography: Ricardo Costa
Format: 16 mm color and b/w
Archive film: RTP (16mm, b/w)
Photos by Eduardo Gageiro
Illustrations by Siné
Sound: radio archives
Editing: Maria Beatriz
Image lab: Ulyssea Filme
Running time: 28'
Premiere: Mai 1 1976 (RTP)
DVD release: Lusomundo
Early in the morning on April 25, 1974 Ricardo Costa is awoken with a phone call from his friend Ilidio Ribeiro, his partner in publishing activities, announcing that a revolutionary coup was just taking place and that he would soon pick him up with his car. Costa owns a Paillard-Bolex 16mm movie camera, running with a manual wound spring motor. He has two color Eastman 120 meters (390 feet) rolls stored in the frig. Their publishing house, MONDAR editores, has in press a book with drawings by the French humorist Maurice Sinet (Siné), entitled CIA. The publishers are watched by the police, the PIDE/DGS, since their books disturb good order and subvert the rules of the fascist regime which has been governing Portugal for about fifty years.
When he arrives, Ilidio starts tuning up his radio, searching for news, and occasionally finds out the frequency in which the National Republican Guard (GNR) broadcasts orders to their agents to fight against their enemy. Understanding where the confrontation would take place, they move to the right place immediately, the square Praça do Comércio, where the rebels had gathered their tanks.
Ricardo Costa starts shooting. Just a few curious persons moved on the square among soldiers at that time, besides some professional photographers, such as Eduardo Gageiro. The situation evolves. More and more citizens arrive to support the coup. Followed by an increasing crowd, the tanks move to the Largo do Carmo, to the headquarters of the GNR, where Marcelo Caetano, Salazar’s successor, had taken refuge. Ricardo makes short shots to spare film, but captures the essential events occurred until dawn. Cut in four 30 meters rolls, 120 meters of film have been impressed.
Next day a copy from the negative is made at Ulyssea Filme. Foreign media are now aware of the importance of the coup. The German television chain ARD had been in the meantime contacted and wants those pictures. The Lisbon airport is closed, but the film is sent with the first plane flying to Germany, where it is broadcast. Siné takes the first airplane flying from Paris to Lisbon and arrives just before the celebrations of May 1. Engaged in the revolution in his own way, he makes drawings from what he sees and comments to the Portuguese press.
The second 120 meters reel is used to film Mário Soares’s and Álvaro Cunhal’s arrivals, the Workers’ Day rally in Lisbon and other occasional events just before Mai 1.
The RTP, Portugal's public television, will open its doors to independent film directors and producers in 1975. Ricardo Costa closes MONDAR editors and leaves his work as high-school teacher to dedicate entirely to filmmaking. For about two years he will also collaborate with the German television chain ARD and the CBS filming events during the so-called PREC (The revolutionary period in Portugal, April 1974 through April 1976).
The film April Carnations will just be finished when the revolutionary period comes to an end. It will premiere at the RTP in Mai 1 1976.