The Taviani brothers' first (mainly) English language film, set just before and during World War I, concerns two inseparable Tuscan brothers, stonemasons who - like their forefathers - restore Romanesque cathedrals. Suddenly finding themselves without work, they travel to America in search of the fortune that will allow them to return to revive their father's business; after endless setbacks, they finally win acclaim for their work on the Babylonian elephants for DW Griffith's Intolerance. As in their previous films, the Tavianis take an oblique and deeply personal look at history to create a fable of enormous resonance. Realism merges with the surreal, fact with fiction, and a faux-naif surface (not unlike that of the films from the period depicted) conceals a complex interweaving of familiar Taviani themes: the continuing strengths and shortcomings of tradition and patriarchy, the importance of imagination, memory and collective endeavour. Typically, sentimentality is held at bay by the cool, formalised direction. The performances throughout are splendid, the symbolism never intrusive, the entire achievement witty and elegant.
Cast and crew
|Director:||Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani|
|Screenwriter:||Paolo Taviani, Vittorio Taviani, Tonino Guerra|
Joaquim de Almeida