The Tree of Wooden Clogs

(L'albero degli zoccoli)
Italy 1978. Dir: Ermanno Olmi. 186 min. DCP

“A cinematic miracle ... To see it is to be stirred to the depths of one’s soul.”
ANDREW SARRIS, VILLAGE VOICE

NEW RESTORATION | Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1978, Ermanno Olmi’s elegiac portrait of peasant life in late-19th-century Lombardy is rendered with a sublime understatement, humanism, and lyricism that recaptures the best of Italian neorealism. Made with an ensemble cast of non-professionals, and with an exquisite appreciation for the everyday, The Tree of Wooden Clogs is a contemplative, unhurried, deeply spiritual work that follows several peasant families through the quotidian rituals of rural life and the changing of the seasons. The injustices they suffer under their landlords, culminating in a heartbreaking incident involving the tree of the title, provide the film with its dramatic centre. Olmi — who wrote, directed, shot, and edited — intended this moving, intimate-yet-epic pastoral as a paean to the peasant roots of Italian civilization (and, perhaps, as an answer to the baroque bombast of Bertolucci’s 1900). The film’s great painterly beauty is perfectly showcased in this splendid new restoration!


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REVIEWS

“Warm, affirmative, unsentimental ... The movie can be mentioned in the same breath as Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali.”

The Guardian | full review