April 23, 2023


2017 / 108 min
Review by Fluffy the Fearless😾

There might be a decent movie lurking around in there somewhere. To be honest, I’m not really sure. Pilgrimage is the first film I’ve ever reviewed where the entire experience is utterly destroyed by its presentation. 

I probably should qualify that by suggesting it could be the actual DVD transfer. The picture and sound are fine. In fact, Pilgrimage looks wonderful (save for a few wonky scenes where the use of green screen is obvious). However, the subtitles are way out of sync with the dialogue…sometimes by more than 5 seconds. This is a huge issue because not-only is all exposition presented by voiceover narration, we’re often unsure who is speaking, which is especially frustrating during numerous scenes involving a character who serves as an interpreter for the protagonist.

"A little seasick, sir?"
That protagonist, Fernão Mendes Pinto, was an actual Portuguese explorer who wrote about his exploits in a book that was published after his death. Apparently, the general consensus was that Pinto was more skilled at spinning engaging stories than offering factual accuracy. Pilgrimage is an adaptation of that book, narrated by Pinto (Claudio da Silva), who recounts two decades at sea in his quest for riches. 

Even without the subtitle gaffes, the episodic narrative is pretty choppy (and hard to follow), jumping from one isolated story to the next with minimal transition, compounded by multiple flashbacks and scenes where Pinto’s crew repeatedly break into song. And for a movie about one man’s global adventures, there’s precious little on-screen action, presumably due to budget restraints. Ultimately, we’re told a hell of a lot more than we’re shown. 

Though too convoluted to be fully engaging, Pilgrimage could have been at least watchable because it’s handsomely produced and features good overall performances. Instead, the subtitles simply exacerbate the film’s narrative shortcomings, rendering the whole film damn near incomprehensible and unendurable.

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