Directed by: Ermanno Olmi
Countries & Regions: Italy
Studio: Arrow Films
Length: 179 mins
Region: Region 2
Released: 5 November 2007
Cat No: FCD314
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The Tree of Wooden Clogs
Cast: Carlo Rota , Luigi Ornaghi , Francesca Moriggi , Omar Brignoli , Antonio Ferrari , Teresa Brescianini , Giuseppe Brignoli , Pasqualina Brolis , Massimo Fratus , Francesca Villa , Maria Grazia Caroli
On a turn-of-the-century farm in Italy, various families work for the farm owner and are paid according to their productivity. One... Read More
One year in the lives of four peasant families, all living in the same farmhouse, is slowly revealed in a mosaic of small but stunning sequences. There's no hero, no antagonist, and no great wrong that gets set right. This film is simply a slice of life, a living documentary about rural existence, consisting of simple, poetic stories of children, weddings, sick animals and secret tomato growing.
It's a ravishing depiction of the changing seasons with real sympathy for ordinary people who live a very hard life. Their landlords exact a toll of two-thirds of their harvest, and by showing the injustices they suffer at the hands of those masters, Olmi reveals the viciousness of the old system and the bleak fight that has to be fought against the natural world. This culminates in a heartbreaking incident, when the tree of the title is cut down by a father to make a pair of clogs for his son to reach school, for which he suffers terrible consequences.
Olmi gathered together an ensemble cast of peasants from the area as actors, used direct sound and shot in almost documentary style. The result is a wonderfully authentic film whose characters exist so naturally that you are immediately transported to another time and place.
A testament to the strength of the human spirit, The Tree of Wooden Clogs is a contemplative, unhurried and deeply spiritual film. Winner of the Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1978, it has become a model for many present day Italian film-makers and is rightly regarded as Ermanno Olmi's masterwork
This is just one of the most authentic and absorbing films ever made. It has captured the naturalness of a time when people lived mostly by daylight hours, ploughing together, falling in love, finding the shoes for the children - thus the title - when a father chops down the lord of the manor's tree to make some clogs for his son to be able to walk miles to school. The privilege of education was too great to miss but the crime has its consequences.
I watch this again and again. The opening scenes draw you in to another world. It is a gem. Don't miss it!