Picks and Pans Review: The Tree of Wooden Clogs

updated 07/09/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/09/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The last Italian import to celebrate peasant life was Bernardo Bertolucci's three-hour epic, 1900, with a cast of international stars. This movie is also three hours long, but with an all-amateur cast. And, in its own way, Tree is superior. Written, directed, photographed and edited by Ermanno Olmi, it tells about five peasant families living on a tenant farm at the turn of the century. Olmi (he's 47, but none of his previous eight feature films have made much impact here) marvelously blends five separate stories into a single narrative. Most interesting is the family with an exceptionally bright son who gets a chance to go to the village school. When he comes home one day with his wooden clog shoe broken, his father chops down one of the landlord's trees to make a new one. Visually arresting, well-paced and superbly acted, this movie has none of the strained romanticism of the Bertolucci film. No wonder it won the Cannes Festival Golden Palm in 1978. In Italian with English subtitles. (Not rated)

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