46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
I Want a Goat for my Birthday.,
This review is from: Le Quattro Volte [DVD] (DVD)
Lets say straight from the start that if you do not like slow moving films, then this one is most definitely not for you. If you like a uniquely subtle film that is stunningly shot in the rural idyll of Calabria in Southern Italy, then you may get as much enjoyment out of it as I did. Milanese director Michelangelo Frammartino explodes that old W C Fields myth about never working with children and animals and gets an oscar deserving performance from an old sheep dog that Rin Tin Tin would have been proud of, and magically shows us what naturally gifted performers we have in goats. After watching this I had palpitations when I discovered that the the Calabrians use them in their favourite dish, although I have to admit that goat did taste good curried in the Caribbean! The film starts with funeral like slowness and doesn't really get much quicker than a tortoise on mild steroids, but it does slowly draw you into a sort of Calabrian drowsiness where in half dreams you start to see the bigger picture, and when you do, bam you love it.
The film is set in a very rural medieval looking Calabrian hill town, about as far removed from the sophistication of Milan that you could imagine! An old shepherd dies, and a goat is born. The goat dies and .......! Are you getting the picture? The director himself talked about reincarnation, although I personally think that the words from "The Lion King" sum it up better. We are all part of the inescapable 'cycle of life'. Quite often death leads to new life. The bones of dead animals in the Serengetti serve to nourish the rich grasses allowing further life to thrive. I don't really want to go too deeply down that road, but that is what seems to be at the heart of this film. Frammartino's own family hail from Calabria, so he was eager to set his cinematic poem to the rustic rhythms of that area. An interesting character, he is an artist who was trained in architecture and recently turned to photography. This is his second film, where he utilises all his talents to good effect.
Why do I like the film is always a good starter for ten! Well the cinematography is worthy of an artist. Frammartino has immortalised the beautiful little town of Caulonia on film. Surely a boost for tourism in this stunningly beautiful but impoverished region of Italy. Some of the scenes are magical, especially with the goats, but undoubtedly the pick is a 9 minute scene where the dog performs small miracles. I hope they gave him an extra bone for his troubles! You will know the scene I am talking about if you watch the film! Frammartino must have shown infinite patience to get the shots he did. I am a lover of fine art, although far from an expert, and I love the way Calabria is used by the director as a huge canvas to convey the passing of time and the seasons. It is funny that I recently watched Werner Herzog's wonderful documentary about the stunning cave paintings in Chauvet cave, France, which brought home to me just how much more in harmony with nature were our Paleolithic forebearers. It seems Frammartino is not so far removed from his distant ancestors who may have appreciated his vision, albeit in a somewhat changed world.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Jan 2012 07:27:40 GMT
S. Ramsey-Hardy says:
Thanks for your helpful Review- it's noticeable how polarised the reviews are (either 'beautiful' or 'boring') -probably a compliment. Can't think how I missed this film because the star looks very much like the old bloke who lets his goats munch my olives!!
In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2012 20:45:31 GMT
Bob Salter says:
Sounds to me like you may well relate to this film. Hope you enjoy it! As a film experience it is not so much roller coaster, as red wine in the hammock on a sunlit verandah.
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