Le quattro volte
Autumn 2011 Features series
Sunday, November 20, 2011 at 4:00pm
Sunday, November 20, 2011 at 7:00pm
Directed by Michelangelo Frammartino
Screenplay by Michelangelo Frammartino
Starring Giuseppe Fuda, Bruno Timpano and Nazareno Timpano
Rated NR ·
Italy, Germany and Switzerland
Le quattro volte
Italian director Michelangelo Frammartino’s Le quattro volte “is virtually without dialogue, yet filled with the sounds of the world and intensely communicative. It’s a homespun Pythagorean meditation on the harmonious nature of the universe and the transmigration of souls shot in rural Calabria – the hilly land where, some 2,500 years ago, the Greek thinker invented mathematics and, according to tradition, preached to the animals.
“The movie’s title translates to ‘The Four Times’ but, not simply seasonal, it projects four states of being (human, animal, vegetable, and mineral). From dust to dust: Le quattro volte begins with a wheezing, grizzled old man and his herd of goats emerging out of the smoke rising from a charcoal kiln; the movie ends with the charcoal haze of what was once a mighty fir tree drifting across the screen. In between, the goatherd gathers up dust from the floor of the village church, which he mixes in water and drinks each night as a medicinal elixir. It evidently works – the morning after he misplaces his daily packet of church sweepings, he dies.
“The moment is stunningly casual. Le quattro volte is a movie in which animals have at least as much presence as humans. The goatherd’s persistent cough merges with the clamor of his charges’ conversational baas and tinkling bells. A third of the way through, Frammartino orchestrates a bravura 10-minute take, observing in discreet long shot the crossroads in front of the old man’s Spartan home at the edge of town. As costumed villagers prepare for their annual Good Friday Passion play, the goatherd’s dog trots around, marking his territory and barking at them; chased off, the irreverent creature returns to unblock the wheels of their parked truck and free it to gently roll down the hill. (Miracolo!)
“Frammartino, a university film teacher and self-described maker of interactive video pieces, is something like a combination of Michelangelo Antonioni and Jacques Tati. His minimalism is highly orchestrated. The movie’s canine performance received a spontaneous round of applause at the Cannes screening where I saw it and was subsequently awarded the festival’s unofficial ‘Palm Dog.’ (According to Frammartino, the sequence took two weeks to shoot, and the pooch, imported from the city, was the movie’s ‘only true professional.’)” (J. Hoberman, Village Voice)