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4.5 out of 5 stars38
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 5 March 2002
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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on 6 April 2009
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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on 20 June 2008
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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on 24 September 2010
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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on 21 October 2012
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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on 25 June 2015
This is a very long and rather slow moving story of peasants forced by circumstance to scratch out a living and to pay a large percentage of their crops and produce to a rich landlord. Probably the story of many feudal communities throughout history and throughout the world. So far it doesn't sound very inspiring or exciting, but it is in fact an absorbing and fascinating insight into the lives of these poor people. It is not all doom and gloom either since they have periodic happy occasions which they all share in. There is no real conclusion to it - just "one year in the life of" a community. It can at times be sad and uplifting and very insightful. There is a somewhat disturbing scene of a pig being slaughtered which clearly has been actually carried out for the film. This is unnecessary and could have been adequately dealt with by showing a sort of before and after. However, it does drum home the realism of the whole event - no holds barred! The acting is wonderful and seems wholly authentic and realistic. It won't be everybody's cup of tea but could fairly be described as a mini masterpiece.
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on 23 June 2014
An honest, believable and at times brutal insight into the lives of an isolated group of Italian peasants. Set in a farm complex in i898, it documents their day to day struggles against poverty and injustice.

A simple story that's told well.

The phrase 'no animals were hurt during the making of this film' does not apply. If you are a lover of animals and especially of pigs, I would give this a miss.
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on 4 April 2012
I watched this film last night and I am happy I did. This film is great. While I was watching it, I realised that this film could not have been directed by any director other than Ermanno Olmi nor have been acted by any cast other than these in the film. This film will always remain a testimony to a life that no longer exits.
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on 3 March 2013
A unique and lovingly made work of cinema, recording a dying culture and way of life now, arguably, gone forever.
Using his unobtrusive and highly individualistic style, Ornaghi has recorded a detailed and sensitive history of a society probably now lost to mankind forever, given their fragile circumstances and vulnerability to feudal hierarchy and encroaching 20th C influences coming to bear.
At just over 3 hours in length, it may seem unduly long to some, but, to this viewer, it was over too soon, and I feel he could have doubled or trebled the oevre, without a minutes' waste.
Truly, a great work for cinematic and universal posterity.
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on 5 April 2014
Written and directed by Ermanno Olmi,this is a fine example of Italian neo-realist cinema. The Tree of Wooden Clogs was taken from stories Olmi's grandmother told him and is set in Lombardy around the turn of the century. This 1978 film uses people from the area as actors,and is not only an attack on an outmoded social system but an almost mystical affirmation of the relationship of man to nature,for instance, the tree of the title is cut down by a father to make a pair of clogs for his son.There are ravishing depictions of the changing seasons in a stunning part of Lombardy. This is a documentary that isn't a documentary.
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