I went to see yesterday the Portuguese movie Soldado Milhões. It’s directed by one of my favorite directors, Jorge Paixão da Costa, together with Gonçalo Galvão Teles. It portraits the story of the Portuguese soldier Aníbal Augusto Milhais. In the I World War, Portugal participated and fought in France. Aníbal Augusto Milhais was one of the 75 000 soldiers who fought in this war. He became a national hero after saving the lifes of his companions while in the trenches.
In the year that the La Lys Battle makes the 100 year anniversary, and just few days after it (the anniversary was in April 9th), this movie is release in movie theaters in Portugal. Since I enjoy to watch movies based on real life events I had to see this one, specially since it’s about Portuguese History (which is my passion). This movie also has some of my favorite Portuguese actors, like Ivo Canelas, Lúcia Moniz and António Pedro Cerdeira. From the start I thought I was going to see a movie with quality.
I wasn’t wrong. You can feel the difficulty that was life in the trenches, you travel in time to the I World War and also to 25 years later, with an older Milhais, already a father. It’s a piece of art that creates a story about the facts we know without forcing Milhais to be a hero from the start, or to be the best guy ever. His character is very humanized and layered and both João Arrais and Miguel Borges made a good job. This is a story told in two parts, the one from the events of April 9th 1918, and the other with a man suffering from PTSD and hating his medals, symbols of heroism to others, symbols of suffering and death to him.
I don’t want to extend much, I wrote this text so that more people will go watch this movie. It’s a good movie to see how life was hard in this war. Milhais is the anti-hero that believes he didn’t make a great act of courage by protecting his companions. Truth is that he stayed alone in the trenches while his company ran from the Germans (Great Britain had ordered Portuguese soldiers to retreat) and he went from one place to another so Germans thought there were several people there and went back. Milhais then went alone, in pursuit of his company and when he arrived he was called Milhões (millions) for the lifes he had saved.
Even though the movie was shot in Portugal, you don’t feel it when you see the trenches. It’s just a bit sad that you don’t have the different Portuguese accents in this movie (for instance, it’s from the North and everybody speaks with the Lisbon accent). It’s a good thing that someone decided to portrait this man and also the First World War, since we don’t have as much movies as we should about this war, it’s a good lesson in History. I got emotional while watching the movie and after, because I could feel the suffering, the mental instability of those soldiers and also because I know I had one great-grandfather fighting in this war, I thought about him and all the soldiers that went to the stage of war. You should see it, you won’t regret it.
Aníbal Augusto Milhais – Soldado Milhões with the condecorations he received after being considered a national hero
There’s a book that tells his story if you want to read and you can see a TV interview here and to hear him speaking about his story in a recording made by his daughter here.