A tramp, haunted by a criminal past, is offered 200 francs by a stranger with one request, that when he can afford it, he return the sum to a chapel. The derelict rejoins a world he no longer knew, finding work, sleeping in beds or dining out with women. But he gets distracted from his obligation.
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One of the most incredible films ever made. I will love it even after my own death. Exceptional, impeccable, touching, vivid, and dreamy. Ermanno Olmi wanted to honour Pietro Germi's "Il Ferroviere": he ended up surpassing it.
One of the greatest films ever made. Saw it when I was in Berlin, broke, and down and out...and it revived and inspired me. I had never had such a peculiarly spiritual experience when watching a film and I was moved by Rutger Hauer's beautiful performance. As good (or even better!) than Joseph Roth's stunning short story on which this film is based. Marvelous achievement.
A rousing, wholly individual, and appropriately intoxicating work of art, THE LEGEND OF THE HOLY DRINKER affirms not only the magical potential of cinema, but of life itself. In adapting the final literary work of Joseph Roth, who died in alcoholic penury in Parisian exile at the end of the 30s, Olmmi puts all he has into this agile tale concerning the curious workings of destiny. A work of freakish unearthly power.
Beautifully shot and accompanied by a stellar musical score (Stravinsky), but endlessly frustrating. Over two hours of watching a chronic bumbling drunk repeatedly fail to reach his destination by squandering on alcohol what little money he keeps miraculously falling into, while his teeth and lips become ever more hideous to behold.
Solid and substantial film constructed from what is essentially a simple yet intriguing premise (I'm curious to read Roth's original novella). A cyclical story, not just narratively but also of the life and world in which the characters' exist. This set-up can, when done well, be extremely cinematically propulsive, as it is here, but it also keeps tight rein on the overall pacing. Hauer's performance is captivating.