Le quattro volte

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“Grave, beautiful, austerely comic… This skeptic found it pretty darn sublime.” — J. Hoberman, Village Voice

Year: 2010
Running time: 88 mins
Censor Rating: G

Screenplay: Michelangelo Frammartino
Producers: Marta Donzelli, Gregorio Paonessa, Susanne Marian, Philippe Bober, Gabriella Manfrè, Elda Guidinetti, Andres Pfaeffli
Photography: Andrea Locatelli
Editors: Benni Atria, Maurizio Grillo
Production designer: Matthew Broussard
Costume designer: Gabriella Maiolo

With: Giuseppe Fuda (the shepherd), Bruno Timpano, Nazareno Timpano (coal makers)

Festivals: Cannes (Directors’ Fortnight), Karlovy Vary, Toronto, New York, London 2010; San Francisco 2011

A rugged valley in Italy’s mountainous region of Calabria is the setting for this wonderful film, a spellbinding take on a way of life as old as the elements. Michelangelo Frammartino’s ode to the cycles of nature applies a wryly detached ‘documentary’ eye to what is in fact a meticulously staged and richly loaded drama – in which some of the principal actors are mineral, vegetable and animal. Here humanity is no longer at the centre of the universe, simply part of its mysterious process: we see a mighty tree accorded more ceremony in death than a superstitious old man. Frammartino’s eye on the animal world is little short of miraculous. He holds us enthralled by the territorial contests of baby goats – and, in a shot that will live forever in cinema history, floors us with the intervention in human affairs of a dog. This mutt’s seamless execution of an elaborately choreographed gag makes up for the lack of a Buster Keaton comedy on this year’s programme. — BG

Le quattro volte, an idiosyncratic and amazing new film… is so full of surprises – nearly every shot contains a revelation, sneaky or overt, cosmic or mundane – that even to describe it is to risk giving something away… In four chapters… Mr Frammartino successively chronicles the earthly transit and material transmutation of an old man, a young goat, a tree and a batch of charcoal. Each being or thing is examined with such care and wit that you become engrossed in the moment-to-moment flow of cinematic prose, only at the end grasping the epic scope and lyrical depth of what you have seen, which is more or less all of creation.” — A.O. Scott, NY Times

View the trailer on Flicks.co.nz