Olmi's uncompromising reconstruction of peasant life in turn-of-the-century Lombardy marks a return to his origins in neo-realism and non-professional casts. Choreographed as an ensemble work that admits no star performers, his film takes its unhurried pace from the lives of the dirt farmers it observes - lives of repetitive drudgery punctuated by cautious moments of felicity. Its gently muted colour camerawork succeeds in covering the exquisite landscape with a thin patina of mud, while for two of its three hours the changing of the seasons is the closest the film comes to a dramatic event. By showing peasant exploitation as neither triumphant Calvary nor action-packed drama, Olmi refutes both 1900 and Padre Padrone, and creates a near-perfect hermetic universe, punctured only in those rare moments when, as tautologous as the film's English title, he dots the 'i's on the amply demonstrated Marxist message. Still, a near faultless and major film.
The Tree of Wooden Clogs
Cast and crew
Antonio Ferrari Teresa Brescianini