Le Quattro Volte - Review
By Evrim Ersoy May 27, 2011, 11:46 GMT
Whilst everyone has been talking about ‘The Hangover Part 2’ this week, the real gem of the week is flying in quietly under the radar. If you’re going to see one film this weekend, then you owe it to yourself to discover this Italian masterpiece.
Reminiscent of Raymond Depardon’s ‘Profils Paysan’s , ‘Michelangelo Frammartino’s ‘Le Quattro Volte’ follows a village in the hills of Calabria through the seasons and through following different ‘characters’.
An old shepherd lives in a cabin and tries to overcome his illness by collecting dust from the church floor and mixing it into his water as medicine. A goat is born in the village. An ash tree goes through the various processes to become charcoal. The village goes about its’ day with celebrations and other occurrences.
Although at first the film seems fragmented this is a false view: Michelangelo Frammartino’s piece is highly symmetrical and each segment follows the previous linked by both visual elements and themes. The old man occupies the opening segment, and then his herd particularly a newborn goat, then an ancient tree and finally a heap of charcoal.
Frammartino successfully captures the essence of life: a universe in which nothing dies and everything lives. Departure from one form is merely a means to become part of another: here is the very nature of the world we live summed into the life of a village.
Although parts of the film might seem superficial or forced, Frammartino never over-indulges himself. The discipline of his training as an architect applies to the form of the film, too: although segments might seem rigid on their own, the natural feel with which the whole thing fits together suggests an artist who knows and understands the material he’s working with.
Frammartino describes the film as coming from inside him – although the project he intended to make is exceptionally different from what the net result is, he describes himself as being in service of the project once he realised what the material could reflect on the screen.
The symmetrical aspect of the structure is reflected in Frammartino’s attitude to filmmaking who describes his process in mathematical terms.
Like some of his counterparts in current European cinema (for example Nuri Bilge Ceylan or Cristi Puiu) Frammartino represents a more naturalistic style of film-making: an almost counter-culture to the fast-cutting, attention deficit stricken mainstream product. Whilst such a style can sometimes set an obstacle to the viewer who is not used to finding unusual rhythms, Frammartino never fails to engage the audience – the film never feels as if it’s dragging on.
A gentle, moving film – ‘Le Quattro Volte’ will not be for everyone. But for the audience members who are able to open their heart to the rhythms presented by the film, it’ll be an unforgettable experience.