The Exceptional Evocation Of A Bygone Era
According to Mike Leigh, The Tree of Wooden Clogs is a film about man and place, environment, seasons, the passing cycle of things its about power, class, religion and faith love, superstition and journeys life and death.
But, as Olmi revealed on The South Bank Show in 1981, its also about the past he shared with cast members, who assisted production designer Enrico Tovaglieri by supplying their own tools and artifacts to decorate the sparsely furnished farmhouse.Through the meticulous accumulation of such detail, Olmi was able to recreate the natural rhythms, harsh realities and simple joys of the peasant world with an unsurpassed authenticity.
The Sense Of Community Is Palpable
Four families occupy the cascina, and Olmi sketches the key characters with deft efficiency, as Batistì frets about his young son walking miles to school, Anselmo shows his granddaughter how to plant tomatoes and Stefano coyly courts Maddalena .Yet woven around the individual vignettes are scenes of communal toil, devotion and leisure. Songs and stories abound, as neighbours rally round to slaughter pigs, feed the needy and deliver babies.
Solidarity can only extend so far, however, in what are still essentially feudal times. Thus, when a tenant is evicted, hes left to load up his cart in sympathetic but self-preservatory isolation.
The Tree Of Wooden Clogs Cast And Crew
This 2016 panel discussion held in Bologna, Italy, and moderated by Gian Luca Farinelli and filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher, features cast and crew of THE TREE OF WOODEN CLOGS, including production manager Enrico Leone, script supervisor Fiorella Lugli, assistant production designer Rosella Guarama, a…
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Its A Great Work Of Humanism
Olmi has frequently focused on the dignity of labour, yet he was accused of sentimentalising poverty by critics who questioned his Marxist Catholic credentials. Some mocked the Edenic references and the miraculous recovery of Widow Runks cow, while others noted the protests that the newlyweds witness after their thrilling barge trip to Milan they damned Olmi for not having the peasants similarly rise up against injustice.
But theres nothing reactionary or apologetic about Olmis resistance to both patronising nostalgia and populist revisionism in stressing the severity of the oppression the peasants have to endure and the depth of the consolation they derive from their faith. Indeed, its difficult to see this as anything other than a work of profound humanist integrity.
The Tree Of Wooden Clogs Review Olmi’s Neorealist Masterpiece
This painterly depiction of Lombardy peasant life, with its unfolding, interwoven stories portrayed over a broad canvas, is magnificent in its authenticity
Cinemas last great work of neorealism emerged almost 40 years ago: Ermanno Olmis LAlbero degli Zoccoli, or The Tree of Wooden Clogs was the Palme dOr winner at Cannes in 1978 and now gets a cinema re-release.
At close to three hours, Olmis dark, slow and mysterious masterpiece needs some acclimatisation time it needs an investment of audience attention so that the emotional connection can be made. For the first act, it is a little opaque and forbidding, but the fairground scene in the middle unlocks the films energy, and the final sequences are powerful in ways that would not be possible had we not been immersed in the sombre day-lit world, with every shot composed with painterly care.
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Ermanno Olmi On The Tree Of Wooden Clogs 1978
This French television broadcast from the Cannes Film Festival was directed by Jean Manceau and aired on May 19, 1978. It features an interview with director Ermanno Olmi in which he discusses THE TREE OF WOODEN GLOGS and how it captures a peasant way of life that he was among the last to witness.
Reasons To Watch The Tree Of Wooden Clogs Ermanno Olmis Epic Masterpiece Of The Land
Regarded as one of the great films of the 1970s, Ermanno Olmis Palme dOr-winning The Tree of Wooden Clogs is a pastoral epic of peasant life in 19th-century Italy. Heres why this cinematic miracle is worth rediscovering.
5 July 2017
Ermanno Olmi first conceived of The Tree of Wooden Clogs while making documentary shorts like Time Stood Still for the Edison Volta electric company. Inspired by the stories that his grandmother had told him, he spent months interviewing farm workers from his native Lombardy, basing the scenario and dialogue on their recollections.
Around 50 of them were cast as the residents of a rundown 1898 cascina on the estate of an aloof landowner who is entitled to a sizeable share of their produce. Their restrained performances owed much to the influence of Robert Flaherty, the neorealists, and Georges Rouquiers docu-dramatic study of the French peasantry, Farrebique .
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Devised as a three-part mini-series for RAITV, the picture was released theatrically after it unanimously won the Palme dOr at Cannes. Comparisons were made with such rustic epics as Jan Troells The Emigrants and The New Land , Bernardo Bertoluccis 1900 , Paolo and Vittorio Tavianis Padre Padrone and Terrence Malicks Days of Heaven , and it has since been cited as inspiration for Michelangelo Frammartinos Le quattro volte .
Here are five reasons not to miss it.
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No One Appears To Be Acting
Following Luchino Viscontis lead in La terra trema , Olmi had the cast speak in their Bergamasque dialect and heightened the naturalism of the performances by having Amedeo Casati record the sound live. Olmi justified his use of non-professionals by stating: In a film about peasants, I choose the actors from the peasant world. I dont use a fig to make a pear.
Yet, by encouraging them to improvise, he captured a constitution of truth that reinforces the illusion of eavesdropping on the past, as Widow Runk worries about feeding her brood and Finard accuses his horse of stealing the coin he had hidden in its hoof.
The Tree Of Wooden Clogs
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The Tree of Wooden Clogs is a 1978 Italian film written and directed by Ermanno Olmi. The film concerns Lombard peasant life in a cascina of the late 19th century. It has some similarities with the earlier Italian neorealist movement, in that it focuses on the lives of the poor, and the parts were played by real farmers and locals, rather than professional actors.
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