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The Tree of Wooden Clogs [DVD]


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Product details

  • Actors: Luigi Ornaghi|Francesca Moriggi|Omar Brignoli|Antonio Ferrari
  • Directors: Ermanno Olmi
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Nouveaux
  • DVD Release Date: 11 Feb 2002
  • Run Time: 176 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000063CKC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 153,534 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

On a turn-of-the-century farm in Italy, various families work for the farm owner and are paid according to their productivity. One particular family has a gifted young boy, who they decide to send to school rather than force into manual labour. However, the child has to walk many miles to get to the nearest school, and when his shoes break one day on his journey home, the family are too poor to buy a new pair.

From Amazon.co.uk

A three-hour peasant epic in which nothing very much happens might sound like the ultimate turn-off; but The Tree of Wooden Clogs ("L'Albero degli Zoccoli") is made with so much love and dedication that it rarely flags. Set in the Lombardy countryside in the closing years of the 19th century, the film traces the interconnected lives of four peasant families all living in the same large farmhouse. The most dramatic event, which gives the movie its title, is when a father chops down a tree so that his son can have clogs in which to walk to school, which leads to quiet tragedy in the final reel.

The film's director Ermanno Olmi--himself of North Italian peasant stock--based his subject on incidents from his own childhood and tales told him by his grandfather. His cast were non-professionals, real peasants chosen from villages of the Bergamo region, whom he encouraged to improvise their own dialogue. All the shooting was done on location with a 16 mm camera, using natural lighting and direct sound--a revolutionary approach in Italy at the time, when almost all films were studio-bound and heavily dubbed. The results carry a rare conviction, the unselfconsciously simple speech and muted earth-tones of the visuals make the film feel more like documentary than fiction.

The hardships of peasant life are never softened, though now and then Olmi's affection for his characters verges on sentimentality. And the unquestioning, submissive Catholicism of director and characters alike tends to cloy. But the sense of dignity and harmony, and the film's unhurried pace, always in step with the seasons, create a moving celebration of a vanished way of life. The Tree of Wooden Clogs took the Palme d'Or at the 1978 Cannes Film Festival.

On the DVD: The Tree of Wooden Clogs doesn't exactly come packed with extras: cast and technical credits, a stills gallery, and a brief two-minute introduction by Olmi, where he explains why he preferred to record in mono, which still sounds fine on the disc. The images have lost nothing of their muted subtlety, and the transfer is in the full 1.33:1 ratio of the original. --Philip Kemp


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 55 people found the following review helpful By B. Clover on 5 Mar 2002
Format: DVD
Olmi's beautifully shot film shows how rural Italian life is slowly destroyed by the coming of industrial society. A way of life unchanged for centuries - several families living in one huge rambling courtyard and working the land - collapses under the pressure of the growing town. But this is not a dry exercise in sociology: the characters are varied, convincing, tragic, comic and alive. The pace is slow but the rewards are great. You feel you've known these people and you miss them. There is story too, plenty of it, but it is the lives that matter. You wont forget it.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By L. Heaney on 6 April 2009
Format: DVD
This film is simply the finest experience put to celluloid. A year in the life, a social commentary and an affirmation of the beauty of life and of its brutality. The film moves at a "slow" pace but during that space hints at the full complexities, joys and sadnesses of a human life. Some person here said it is about the Church and brutal landlords etc etc but they are wrong. The Church is is an agent, limited in its scope but effective in it, it looks after orphans, helps the peasants and acts for their good in the sphere which it occupies. The Landlord likewise is an agent within his sphere. They all are and the elements of their interaction is part of the story of this great film.

However social commentary is not the point in this film if however you wish to watch a film that confirms the mundane majesty of life with some of the finest actors I have had the pleasure to see than I recommend this film to you with no reservation. There is not much to say beyond that.
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful By P. C. Reynell on 20 Jun 2008
Format: DVD
This is one of the all-time greats of the cinema. Olmi's knowledge and love for this part of Italy burns like a flame and he gets very deeply into the lives of the people. The boy who is being lifted out of his class by education needs clogs for his long walk to school and his father's destruction of a tree leads to the family's expulsion by the landlord. Many social and political problems of the region at the beginning of the 20th century are touched upon in this long and unforgettable film. The characters live rather than act their parts and the photography is excellent
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By K. Harvey on 27 Jun 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This hauntingly beautiful film is more an experience in stepping back in time to rural Tuscany than anything you can imagine. Switch off your mobile, take the phone off the hook, make sure you will not be disturbed in any way and let yourself be transported.

The families around the farmhouse each have to support and care for each other throughout the seasons and they live together on the land, young and old, with all their needs and passions played out through the restrictions of their feudal world.This is the most authentic piece of drama I have ever seen. Engrossing, beautiful and very moving it is a picture of many places in rural Europe at the time. If you love Hardy or rural life in any way don't miss this wonderful, unique film.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Martin P. Lowe on 24 Sep 2010
Format: DVD
If only there were more films made like this. The film tells the story of a group of peasants struggling to survive from one day to the next. The hardship, the joy and the despair of their exsistance is beautifully portrayed by a cast of non-actors. This film is a masterpiece. If you like blockbusters look eleswhere, if you appreciate film making of the highest order then this film is for you.
This film reminds me of two excellent novels about hardship and struggle 'Knut Hamsun-Growth of the Soil' and 'Halldor Laxness- Independent People'.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. C. Wherly on 21 Oct 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I first saw this film in 1980 and have watched it many times since. My awe at Olmi's massive achievement only grows. It's definitely - along with Ray's 'Pather Panchali (first film in The Apu Trilogy) my Number 1 choice as the best film I've ever seen. In fact, the more I watch those two films, the more I see that Olmi was greatly inspired by Ray and 'Apu'. Notice the homages along the way: the beggars arriving at the door of people almost as poor as the beggar, but finding something to give - 'We must help one another in this world' - and the final scene in both films of the cart heading away from home.
As other reviewers have pointed out, 'Clogs' is not a film chock full of action. It takes a year in the lives of a community of peasant farmers in the Bergamo area of Northern Italy. Modernity is knocking at the door: the child is sent to school; the landlord plays a recording of an aria, and the people overhear the miracle; an old uncle taaches a child how to beat the opposition in bringing tomatoes to market early; an impoverished widow manages to keep her large family because the eldest son - little more than a child himself - takes over and finds a job...a succession of small but hugely meaningful acts all add up to a portrait of a traditional society on the cusp of change.
Beautifully filmed, the film wins my award because it is warm and universal. Like 'Apu', you could show it in Africa, Arabia or China and it would at once be understood and communicate to the watchers. I know because it's been part of my armoury as a 'teaching aid' to get conversations going in classrooms overseas.
This film should have been placed on the rocket that set out to explore the universe and tell any people in other worlds about the best of us. Glorious.
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