An absolute masterpiece! At first glance, it wouldn't seem like a three hour long film about north Italian peasants at the turn of the twentieth century would that interesting. But it was wonderful, and despite it's steady pace it is never boring. There is an element of Marxist criticism, but this is secondary to religion and the film presents the lives of these peasant families in all it's sacred simplicity.
Dans une grande métairie lombarde à la fin du dix-neuvième siècle. Ce film est la chronique de la vie de cette ferme, présentant les travaux, les joies, les événements du quotidien, l'injustice et l'arbitraire du propriétaire, la résignation paysanne, la religion et son influence prédominante, avec une évidente richesse cinématographique que seul Ermanno Olmi pouvait distiller ..... www.cinefiches.com
A real beauty--a deep immersion in another life and time just adjacent to our own. Besides its considerable rustic charms, almost mystic in their polyphonic intensities (a la Jean Giono's novels of epic pastoralia, and marinaded in Bach), Olmi's masterpiece offers a fascinating, vivid tableaux of feudalism's fade into capitalism, as devoid of nostalgia for the former as it is without illusions about the latter. 4.5.
This monumental film, seen on a proper setting, does carry one to the rural Italy at the dawn of the twentieth century. Olmi's unique approach towards a "realist" narrative -which often involves documenting amateur actors in real locations with the addition of cinematic techniques, such as the interplay between objective and subjectives perspectives and narrative flashbacks- is what makes this journey near perfect.
The relationship between workers and land is mediated through economical hierarchies. The little boy is part of the 1st generation to deviate from this working tradition: he's going to study. He doesn't need to get dirty like his parents, but once again the economical factor plays an important role: his worn-out clogs need to be repaired, the contact with the ground is restored, but as some kind of decline. (...)
Adorno says of Beehoven that we do not understand music. "It understands us." Within this film is a world that one is witness to, can live in, and have deep affection for. The film is larger than itself and larger than film: it exceeds the boundaries of film and is plentiful with a fecundity that is rare. Deep reverence and respect permeate it. It is as if Olmi is caressing the material world and its beings.