Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira’s seven-hour adaptation of French symbolist poet/playwright Paul Claudel’s marathon theater masterpiece. The action of the drama spans four continents and involves half the history of 16th-century Europe and the New World, with metaphysical preoccupations that play directly into de Oliveira’s own perennial themes of unattainable perfection and graillike striving (Francisca, Doomed Love). As rigorous as any symbolist and just as concerned with surfaces, at once lapidary and nonrevealing, the septuagenarian Portuguese has established himself as one of the most innovative formalists in the contemporary film world. I haven’t seen this behemoth, but its premiere passing through is an event not to be missed. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Saturday and Sunday, February 28 and March 1, 2:00, 443-3737; special admission charged)