- Summary: 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. (Lorba. (Lorber Films)… Expand
- Director: Michelangelo Frammartino
- Genre(s): Drama
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10This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. "Le Quattro Voltre" or `The Four Times' is a slow moving and beautiful work of art. A silent and serene portrayal of the ideas of Pythagoras and transmigration, the idea of the soul being reincarnated again and again into humans, animals, vegetables and minerals until it is immortal; a continuous cycle of creation and existence. All of which is seen from a distance, with no dialogue or soundtrack and just the sounds of nature to accompanying the images on screen. At first we observe an old shepherd tending his flock, drinking a home remedy of water and dust from the floor of a local church, until his sudden death which is immediately proceed by the birth of a goat whose life comes to an end under a tree, which is cut down and used for a village ritual and later burned in the creation of coal, all ending in a puff of smoke from a lone chimney as ashes and dust enter the air, some of which to inevitably gather on the church floor, everything coming full circle.
The view of the order of the world, of these people, of life and creation, existence, and superstition are all so clear it is as if you are discovering something that has been there all along but are only now recognizing, like an acknowledgement of complex themes for the first time done through the simplest means.
By simple I mean restrained and meditative. I was personally surprised in how given the lack of any real action or narrative it still managed to be totally engrossed within every second of every frame. Whether it was a moment of subtle and natural humor, or due to hypnotic events including an astonishing longshot involving a dog and a truck; it all builds up to an enlightening revelation in the very end, the sort that makes you rethink and reexamine everything that had come before it and naturally leads to further pondering on its themes and meanings long after its conclusion.
It truly is an incredibly fascinating piece of art that from a distance many would probably expect couldn't say much, and under another director that would have most likely been true, but Michelangelo Frammartino's ability to be so minimalistic yet still communicate on such a cosmic scale is as mystifying as it is refreshing and the reason it works. This is a wonderful achievement, however it is not for those unattuned to any sort of art-house cinema and most are better off ignoring this, the majority of the general movie going audience in fact would probably find it to be a tedious and monotonous affair. On the other hand, for those interested and willing to sit quietly and observe while allowing themselves to be overcome by a surreal and profound work of art this is the `must see' film of the year.… Expand
Beautiful landscapes. That's it.
Nothing serves to make you feel the pointlessness of existence more than sitting through an hour and a half where only four things happen, none of them surprising or compelling. It would have been an engaging 10-minute short film, perhaps.
The metaphysical theme, the gentle passing through the cycle of life, told in the four iterations in the film, is pretty much adolescent philosophy. I like the fact that it is simply witnessed, rather than narrated or explained, but the quality and insight of this aspect has been overplayed by critics.
It would be so much more rewarding just to go and sit on a hillside than to sit watching this film.… Expand