Le Quattro Volte (U)

Nov 07, 2012
Cranbrook Film Society

An old goatherd (Giuseppe Fuda) exchanges goat’s milk for the dust from the church floor that he drinks each evening for his health; one evening the church is locked, triggering a series of events both serious and comic. A baby goat is born, but cannot keep up with the herd and becomes lost, sheltering beneath a large pine. The tree is cut down for a village ceremony and afterwards turned into charcoal. These four parts make up a film deceptive in its simplicity, focussing on the everyday rhythms of a life rooted in nature and ritual, yet concerned with the biggest questions of all.

Set in an isolated medieval village in the hills of Calabria, southern Italy, M Frammartino’s second film is a poetic, profound, yet often funny meditation on the cycle of life. The title, Le Quattro Volte, comes from Pythagoras, who lived in Calabria in the 6th century BC, and his theory of each of us having four lives within us – the mineral, the vegetable, the animal and the human. Beautifully shot, with little dialogue and no music, the film invites contemplation, and offers a glimpse of the eternal in the quotidian.

Cast: Giuseppe Fuda, Nazareno Timpano, Bruno Timpano

Awards: Six wins, five nominations

Michelangelo Frammartino | Italy | 2010 | 88 mins | U


            Weighted vote 68.8%

            “I found this film very poor indeed. As a lifelong agriculturalist, I found the interactions between humans and goats extremely unconvincing on many levels. The scene where the kid can’t keep up with the flock being one of the most ridiculous and unlikely. I have also visited many tiny and remote Italian mountain villages; I have never seen one yet that has only one motor vehicle – most residents have Apes (Vespa vans) or similar.

            You may say that my review is too literal, and the film is impressionistic; but there is no art without truth. It looks like the overindulgent creation of an urban fantasist.”
            Lou Carpenter

            “I cannot believe an audience of adults can sit for an hour watching goats and then say the experience was excellent! If I want to see an old man coughing for half an hour I can look in a mirror. There was nothing wrong with the storyboard – the everyday happenings in a rural community can be fascinating in their minutiae.

            If the film had been directed in a more conventional manner with close-ups, two-shots etc plus proper pacing and editing etc we might have had something of the rural atmosphere of those brilliant elegiac films from the Pagnol novels, but the director had plumped for pretension by the use of no speech, no music, long-shots and inordinately lengthy takes resulting in the worst crime in film-making: tedium and boredom. The fact that only ninety-three people voted at all may indicate that the rest were either too polite or too bored to bother.”
            Alan Stockwell