On the night between 24 and 25 April 1974, in Portugal, a prohibited song is transmitted on the radio: “Grândola". It could be a sign of protest made by an opposing journalist, but in fact it represents a ‘go ahead’ for a military “coup d’état” which will deeply change the country and several, vast territories in Africa. The officers of MFA (Armed Force Movement) are in their early thirties and are all Captains, except for one man who is a Major. They are tired of witnessing and experiencing a colonial war that carries on more and more violently and that reminds everybody of Vietnam. Thus this group of men finally causes the fall of a strongly established European dictatorship - the fascist regime lasted for forty years in Portugal.
The young officers – the “April Captains” – do not intend to gain control and power: they want to create an organisation made of political parties and free elections, in order to establish democracy in the country. It is really an idealist revolution the Captains are planning, for which they have to face and pull down several types of obstacles: strategic, practical and psychological ones. The men’s inexperience and naivety make them even wonder whether they should tell Revolution’s tanks to stop at red traffic lights… But they also have to deal with agonising contradictions: how could they fight the regime without violence or destruction ? These “warriors” do not want to kill or spill blood any longer.
April Captains is a film that shows twenty-four hours of this revolution lived by three main characters: two officers and a young woman, Antonia, who is a university teacher and a journalist (she’s also wife of one of the men and ex lover of the other !). Antonia, in the film, represents the underground resistance against dictatorship and the civil experience of revolution.
The story starts with the taking - performed by the Captains - of military barracks and of one the main radio stations, and it ends with the liberation of political prisoners. The Government falls and the revolutionary men never pull their triggers. At the end of this day, the two young officers are aware that what they have achieved will remain recorded in History forever, but they also understand everything ends there for them: they realise they have prepared the ground for further development from which they will be kept away. Their duty is finished. Instead, Antonia’s new life starts that very day: new responsibilities await her, both as a woman and as a public personality. She’ll get married to an ex terrorist and will become leader of one of the new political parties.