L'albero degli zoccoli (1978)

I saw an earlier picture by Ermanno Olmi - Il Posto - that was quite affecting with its simplistic portrayal of life in postwar Italy. This time, Olmi portrays rural peasantry in the late 19th century in a three hour epic called The Tree of Wooden Clogs.

Farmers inhabit a common building on the property of a local wealthy landowner. Each year a portion of their harvest is given as rent to their landlord. We see children born, a child attend school, a cow become sick, cooking and eating corn meal, the faith of some of the residents, a courtship, etc. Ultimately, there is a tragic event that demonstrates the vulnerability the peasants endure.

None of the characters are played by actors and this really brings home the simplicity and innocence of the time. A rewarding film if you aren't after glamour and special effects and contrived stories.

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