Le Quattro Volte (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
September 3, 2011 by Dennis Amith
A beautiful and profound film! For me, there is a sense of peace and tranquility that comes with the viewing of “Le Quattro Volte”, an appreciation of what filmmaker Michelangelo Frammartino had accomplished which made my viewing experience of the film worth the while. “Le Quattro Volte” is recommended.
Images courtesy of © 2011 Kino Lorber Inc. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Le Quattro Volte
YEAR OF FILM: 2010
DURATION: 88 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), 5.1 TrueHD Audio
COMPANY: Lorber Films/Kino Lorber Incorporated
RELEASE DATE: September 13, 2011
Written and Directed by Michelangelo Frammartino
Produced by Philippe Bober, Marta Donzelli, Elda Guidinetti, Gabriella Manfre, Susanne Marian, Gregorio Paonessa, Andres Pfaffli
Music by Paolo Benvenuti
Cinematography by Andrea Locatelli
Edited by Benni Atria, Maurizio Grillo
Production Design by Gabriella Maiolo
Inspired by Pythagoras’s belief in four-fold transmigration — by which the soul is passed from human to animal to vegetable to mineral — Michelangelo Frammartino’s wondrous docu-essay traces the cycle of life through the daily rituals of life in the southern Italian region of Calabria.
For those of us who live day in and day out with our cell phones, Internet, DVR’s and technology… sometimes, you need a little diversion and get perspective of an opposite lifestyle, simplistic and very traditional.
The film “Le Quattro Volte” (The Four Times) is one of those films that showcases a life that many people still live, in this case, in Italy’s mountainous region of Calabria.
Directed by artist/architect/photographer turned filmmaker Michelangelo Frammartino (“The Gift”) comes a beautiful film that explores Pythagoras (an Ionian Greek philosopher, mathemetician and founder of the religious movement known as Pythgoreanism and a man known to influence Plato) and his belief in the four times or the four levels of existence.
According to Pythagoras’ belief, human souls went through animal, vegetable and mineral states.
With that being said, the film begins with an elderly goat herder (played by Gieuseppe Fuda), a sick man who drinks the dust of the church floor each night. A nightly ritual which he believes, keeps him alive. One night he forgets to drink his concoction and dies in his sleep.
This then transforms to Pythagoras’ second time of existence and then we see the birth of a goat. We watch as the goat from birth and eventually grows but becomes separated by the other goats one day and is left alone to be by itself.
This leads to the third existence which is the vegetable existence and in this case, we see a large tree which is cut down and used for a village celebration. And then after the celebration is done, the tree is cut up and then turned to charcoal (mineral state).
“Le Quattro Volte” is a spiritual, cinematic poem of Pythagoras four levels of existence and invites viewers to see a traditional way of life that still exists today.
“Le Quattro Volte” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1). The film is beautiful! From the older buildings that exist in Calabria, the details on the face of the goat herder as he sits and we can see details as bugs fly in his face, an ant crawling on a tree, the birth of a goat and the remnants of the afterbirth on it. But most beautiful is the cinematography by Andrea Locatelli, showing us the beauty of the mountainous region of Calabria through different seasons.
While not as vibrant or highly detailed compared to a documentary like “Planet Earth” or other nature films that are meant to be showcased in HD, “Le Quattro Volte” is still a beautiful film that manages to capture the look and feel of the village and its surrounding area with great efficacy.
There is no dialogue, no music in “Le Quattro Volte”. It’s a film that focuses on ambiance of the area of where it’s shot in. You do get a lot of goats making noise and while a lot of the film is coming through the center and front channels. I did notice a few ambiance especially during the goat scenes coming from the surround channels.
“Le Quattro Volte” comes with its theatrical trailer and stills gallery.
Beautiful and also interesting film based on Pythagoras’ “four levels of existence”.
The film is without dialogue, without music and its present day activity of the village of Calabria in Southern Italy and what we see today is probably what has happened in Calabria for a very long time. Villagers with their goat herders, goat herders walking the goats through the village and the open streets and bridge in order to get to a destination for the goats to eat. Then you have your Christmas day and Easter celebration and an whimsical look at the surroundings of the village. It’s greenery, the mountains over the distance, the village in their very old buildings and the happiness of the villagers during their celebrations or just getting a bag of coal and of course, images of the making of the coal.
This is a slice-of-life documentary but it makes you wonder… was everything real or was everything staged?
We see the elderly herder gasping his last breath and his chest no longer moving. Is this an actor or did Michelangelo Frammartino capture onscreen a man’s death?
There is no doubt that Frammartino was able to capture impressive moments on camera. From the birth of a goat, to a vehicle hitting an area releasing the goats to a single young goat being left behind and stuck in a ditch to be left wandering alone and no help in sight.
As I watched the film with my wife, she asked me… is this a real film that incorporates documentary elements or is this a full-on documentary capturing life and death? As far as I know, “Le Quattro Volte” is a documentary capturing Calabrian life, showing us everyday life that continues in today’s world but yet a tradition that probably has gone on in the village for centuries, that has not been affected by modern day technology. Aside from a vehicle that transports the coal, everything else featured in the film shows no relation to the life that many of us live.
These are people who don’t use cell phones, Internet. There are no signs of telephone polls, no signs of microwave ovens or television sets.
If anything, Michelangelo Frammartino has done a great job in breaking down the film into Pythagoras’ four levels of existence and focusing on the shepherd (human), the goats…and the baby goat (animal), a tree (vegetable) and the tree being turned into coal (mineral).
The film is for the patient viewers who can sit, enjoy nature and enjoying the serenity of what is shown on camera. We see visual beauty but I have to admit that I found myself chuckling in the moments of seeing these goats behave towards each other. From their behavior of knocking down a broom, one goat on top of a table and not knowing how to get down, seeing a dog interfering with the Easter celebration, there are so many of these moments with animals that are fun in their own way, but of course, it’s all subjective to the viewer.
The Blu-ray release features the beauty of Calabria and for those wanting to see the beauty in 1080p, the Blu-ray release is the way to go. This is not a film in which to expect a lot of audio, there is no dialogue or musical soundtrack played during the film. It’s pretty much a straight-forward, easily accessible film about life in Calabria.
Throughout the film, no one questions the livelihood of the villagers, nor do we question the dust that the herder drinks every night. We know that cultures have its traditions and old concocted remedies, but that’s part of life. We know that goats are a big part of other cultures around the world for their meat or their milk and that is a part of life. But to get a visual of this old world and see it in a film is quite amusing, breathtakingly beautiful and also humorous.
Overall, “Le Quattro Volte” is a film that may not be for the masses, especially those who are not patient with slow paced scenery and breathtaking backdrops but for me, there is a sense of peace and tranquility that comes with the viewing of “Le Quattro Volte”, an appreciation of what filmmaker Michelangelo Frammartino had accomplished which made my viewing experience of the film worth the while.
“Le Quattro Volte” is recommended!
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