Manuel bids farewell to his routine and boards a 15th century vessel under pirate law. Treason onboard triggers a series of terrible events that our protagonist overcomes while keeping his moral principles intact.

Director's Bio-filmography

João Nicolau was born in Lisbon, Portugal, and therefore has never understood (nor will he ever) a thing about the Middle East.
He works as a film director, film editor, actor and musician.
He has directed the features The Sword and the Rose (2010) and John From (2015) and the short films Bird of Prey (2006), Song of Love and Health (2009), The Gift of Tears (2012) and Wild Haggis (2013).
His films are regularly shown in the most prestigious film festivals: Cannes, Venice, Locarno, São Paulo, Belfort, Vienna, Busan, Buenos Aires, Sevilla, Vila do Conde, Angers, Milan, Montreal, Mar del Plata, Belo Horizonte, Valdivia, Rome, Sarajevo, among others.

JOHN FROM [2015] WILD HAGGIS [2013] THE GIFT OF TEARS (commisioned by Guimarães 2012 European Capital of Culture) [2012] THE SWORD AND THE ROSE [2010] SONG OF LOVE AND HEALTH [2009] BIRD OF PREY [2006] YOU CAN´T LIVE WITH YOUR MOUTH SHUT [1999]

Theatrical release


Festivals & Awards

67th Venice International Film Festival – Biennale di Venezia: Orizzonti Competition [Italy, 2010]
Festival Luso-Brasileiro de Santa Maria da Feira [Portugal, 2010]: Film Society Award, Revelation Award

Nouveau Cinéma Montréal [Canada 2010]
Mostra de São Paulo [Brazil, 2010]
Festival International du Film de La Roche dur Yon [France, 2010]
Viennale – Vienna International Film Festival [Austria, 2010]
Estoril Film Festival [Portugal, 2010]

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Apocryphal document belonging to the archives of The Rose

in the beginning, was the great cosmic egg.
inside the egg was chaos, and floating in chaos was P’an Ku, the divine Embryo.
P’an Ku Myth (3rd century, China)

plutex, probably an acronym the meaning of which no man knows.

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Excerpts of Dialogues

João – You haven’t changed a bit…
Manuel – I hope there is still a chance.
João – Easy, boy. This life will do you good. You’ll manage to let a lost sock loose on top of you bed soon, you’ll see. I wanted to tell you that I’m deeply proud of you.
Manuel – Oh well…
João – You were brave.
Manuel – I wasn’t aware of any risks.
João – That’s because you followed my instructions so strictly.
Manuel – I have always been better at doing jobs for others… Hey, how did you come up with those Germans right on the footsteps of Lisbon?
João – Those dogs…
Manuel – I found no reason to complain.
João – You’ve always been a dead lucky bastard… Who do you think was in the black car?
Manuel – Those sons of a bitch!
João – Indeed. Fortunately they’re history now. And with what you brought, we won’t need them for the rest of our lives.
Manuel – Are you certain we have enough?
João – Positive.

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THE SWORD AND THE ROSE at São Paulo Film Festival

This disorientation – the filmmaker’s, his characters’, from a national film policy, from an entire generation, in short – is the aesthetic force of The Sword and the Rose, a film that exposes the anguish, the uncertainties, the confusion about how to intervene politically, but at the same time claims a procedure, a very acurate acidity on humans and their things, a style, a way that it is still very political.

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Your online cinema. Anytime, anywhere.



Manuel Mesquita Luís Lima Barreto Nuno Pino Custódio Pedro Faro Joana Cunha Ferreira Hugo Leitão Mariana Ricardo Lígia Soares Alice Contreiras Tiago Fagulha Crista Alfaiate Caroline Deruas Julie Duclos João Lobo Justin Taurand Helena Carneiro Sinem Erdogan Márcia Breia Pedro Leitão Armando Nunes special appearance Michael Biberstein, José Mário Branco e Luís Miguel Cintra


directed by João Nicolau written by João Nicolau and Mariana Ricardo original soundtrack München cinematography Mário Castanheira sound Vasco Pimentel 1st assistant director Telmo Churro continuity Leonor Noivo art direction Silvia Grabowski hair & make-up Araceli Fuente editor Francisco Moreira, João Nicolau sound editors Vasco Pimentel, Hugo Leitão, João Nicolau, António Lopes mix Miguel Martins production manager Joaquim Carvalho executive producer Luís Urbano co-producer Thomas Ordonneau producers Sandro Aguilar, Luís Urbano

35MM | 137’ | DOLBY SRD | 1:1.66



  • Supported by ICA | MC ICA | MC
  • developed with the MEDIA Programme of the European Community Media Programme Media Programme
  • produced with the investment of FICA FICA
  • supported by Conseil General Bouches-de-Rhônes Conseil General Bouches-de-Rhônes
  • with the participation of RTP RTP
  • support CML CML