The theme of Limite is stated in its title – the limits faced by man in the struggle for existence. The narrative concerns three shipwrecked people, two women and a man adrift in a small boat on the open sea.
In a series of flashbacks, they reveal their stories. With its avant-garde techniques and narrative approach, the sombre majesty of its tragic theme, and its presentation at a time when talkies were all the rage, Limite was far from being a successful commercial venture. The film disappeared from public view, but word of its qualities spread in experimental film circles, both in Brazil and Europe, where it developed a legendary reputation.
The technique Peixoto used to develop the narrative is highly experimental, requiring the kind of concentration one brings to a reading of Joyce or Faulkner. Except for three dialogue titles closely spaced together, there are no intertitles in the two-hour silent film. Continually, Peixoto focuses on huge close-ups of objects and faces, includes wide shots of landscapes and the sea, and utilises throughout unusual compositions and camera movements. His approach is often abstract and surrealistic but it also has clear ties to other Brazilian silent films, with emphasis on regional production and natural backgrounds. Brutus Pedreira, who played the role of a pianist, prepared a musical score for the silent film using 78rpm recordings.