Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Tree of Wooden Clogs|
Actors: Luigi Ornaghi, Francesca Moriggi, Omar Brignoli, Antonio Ferrari, Teresa Brescianini
Director: Ermanno Olmi
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Koch International Release Date: 07/13/2004 Run time: 177 minutes Rating: Nr
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History in the making
Dan Lavelle | The great city of Chicago | 10/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yes it is slow, but so was our heritage, not as Italians, but as human beings. It needs to be slow to develop the story of why sharecroppers left families for America, the faith that they were raised with, how interwoven it was in their lives, and how a child is and has been everything to a parent. Not for the testorone driven Arnold mindless, but was one of the best movie going experiences I have ever seen. I love looking at a movie, walking out hours later, and feel as if I really learned something about the people, a place, and the time that they lived in. This movie was breath taking. Yes it is slow, you have to earn it, but breath taking nevertheless."
... and it is still my most favorite
Thomas P. Schaer | Landenberg, PA USA | 12/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this movie 1979 when I was fourteen back in the small mountain village where I grew up near the Swiss-Italian border. I have seen many movies since, came to live and love a new country and people, yet L'Albero degli Zoccoli remains my favorite. In a world of x-boxes, consumer spending indices and ADD, it is sobering to sit down once in a while and learn about other cultures; you may as well transplant this story in any corner of the world as it holds true across cultures and continents.
Thomas Schaer, Veterinarian & Organic Farmer"
A look at rural Italy and its faith more than a century ago,
Donald M. Bishop | Virginia | 11/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This moving film follows a year in the lives of four Italian tenant-farming families in the late nineteenth century.
Although it is a drama, the film has a strong documentary or ethnographic flavor, portraying the lives of the families, the seasons, the farm animals, country and town, courtship and marriage, and above all faith. The four families live in the same compound, and the plot revolves around events within the compound and the village -- enrolling a boy at school, the sickness of a family's cow, boy meets girl, an adoption, planting tomatoes, the illegal felling of a tree, the difficult circumstances of a widow, and an eviction.
Director Ermanno Olmi drew the members of the cast from Lombardy farm families. The effect of the localized events and the non-professional cast is to pull the viewer into the world of these families in a way few films do. The length of the film and its "slow" pace have a parallel effect -- to draw the viewer out of the fast pace of our modern life back into a time when lives moved to different and slower rhythms.
Many will wince, as I did, at the scene when a large hog is slaughtered. The pork that comes to us in wrapped supermarket packages distances us from the reality of farms and animals, and the film makes us confront it. (All of our great-grandparents knew the reality, and they might be surprised by how the scene discomforts their own descendants.) The scene shows Olmi's evenhandedness. Nostalgia for the past is balanced with a clear look at its hardships and cruelties.
The film's large theme is to show how the lives of these ordinary people were inseparable from their Catholic faith, evident in their prayers, conversations, and responses to their homely crises. The film then subtly portrays how modernity begins to intrude on that thick web of faith and life. The film gives viewers who are interested in social transformation a great deal to discuss.
-- In the film the landlord subtly represents the modern (and impersonal) economic order of markets. Do markets liberate, or oppress? With any economic change, who wins and who loses?
-- Another transformation will be literacy. The major crisis in the plot stems from a boy's walk to school each day.
-- In another generation, the world of these families will be transformed by nationalism and war, alluded to in the film by local orators, by the passing of cavalry through the town, and arrests of agitators. Many other "-isms" will darken the skies.
-- The families live in an age before birth control and family planning, and one can sense the economic difficulties that come with more children. Yet they consider themselves blessed, not burdened.
The four families, then, live in a world not yet modern and still in many ways unjust. As time pulls them into a modern interconnected world of nations, not families and villages, what will they have gained? And what will they have lost?
On the 100th anniversary of cinema in 1995, the Vatican included "Tree of Wooden Clogs" on its list of noteworthy films. It is a mature artistic treatment of rural and family life informed by Catholic meditations on social justice.
The four families' world of faith is Catholic in an older way. With its Hail Marys and Rosaries, its portrayal may initially jar modern Catholics, viewers of other faiths, or non-believers. To all viewers I say "see it through." It is an affectionate portrayal of rural Italy at the end of the nineteenth century, to be sure, but patient viewing and discussion of the film can yield something more -- a view of the role of faith in a society.
Start the discussion with something Will Durant wrote about the commandments and those who follow them: "Through these commands they are made part of a divine drama, and their harrassed lives take on a scope and dignity that cannot be canceled out by death."
Excellence in detail.
D. Hart | 06/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you've ever enjoyed hearing stories from Grandpa of his youth in the "old country", you will love this film. The word "movie" doesn't fit because it's as if you're observing first-hand the lives of these turn-of-the-century peasants, upclose and personal, rather than being entertained or thrilled.
So very realistic!!! Just as if you had stepped back in time.