Filed under: film | Tags: le quattro volte, michelangelo frammartino, pythagoras, sweetgrass
For a solid hour while watching Le Quattro Volte I thought I was watching the best film of the year. I was completely engaged watching the trials and tribulations of an aging goatheard and the subsequent struggles of a baby goat becoming acclimated to life in this world. The film follows the voyage of a soul through Pythagoras’s four stages of life (Human, Animal, Vegetable and Mineral) and it’s inevitable that as we observe a tree and it’s eventual conversion to charcoal the subject matters is inherently less gripping. Fortunately, the final two stages comprise only the last quarter of the film’s runtime and they aren’t completely devoid of interest.
All caveats aside, this is a fantastic film. Much like last year’s Sweetgrass, Le Quattro Volte recognizes there is something profound to be discovered in the movements of large quantities of animals over various landscapes. Frammartino’s sense as a visual storyteller is rather adept. Particularly in the first section of the film as he patiently relates his protagonists habits, preparing us for when they are inevitably disrupted. During the second stage the film blurs the lines between fiction and documentary. Certainly the goat’s birth is legitimate and beyond that you wonder how much direction the baby goat was given, or could have been given.
If the dog in the film is any indication, perhaps more than you think. The film’s centerpiece is a lengthy unbroken take in which the dog wreaks havoc on a passion parade passing through the town. It’s a remarkably timed and choreographed piece of silent comedy, for which my appreciation only deepens when I consider the logistics. Le Quattro Volte is a film that quietly contemplates the living things that share the earth as a habitat, the circle of life in a literal way that is made clear at the end of the film. It finds deep meaning in the way we live our lives, the way we relate to our environment and the way both keep finding ways to go on.
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