Le Quattro Volte: Cannes Winner Beautifully Describes Calabrian (and Universal) Life — Without Words

Le Quattro Volte courtesy of MUBI

Le Quattro Volte courtesy of MUBI

Le Quattro Volte (The Four Times), a film set in Calabria by director Michelangelo Frammartino, won the 2010 Europa Cinemas Label as Best European Film in Cannes Directors’ Fortnight. From the trailer and clips I have seen, it beautifully captures the simplicity of life in this gorgeous land I’m proud to call home while effectively relating the universal idea that each of us has “four distinct lives [mineral, vegetable, animal, and man] and so we have to get to know ourselves four times” (my translation from the official trailer below).

The fact that the story revolves around a goatherd isn’t exactly lost on me either.

A description of the film from Tim Lloyd at AdelaideNow:

An old goatherd takes his flock to feed in the high pastures of Calabria then milks them at his stalls at a spectacular hilltop village, where the rhythm and ritual of life appears unchanged in centuries. His cure-all for his failing health is the blessed ash from ceremonies at the local church. He dies, and at his death a newborn goat takes its first breath. It suits the off-beat and curiously satisfying vision of the film, that the goatherd is resurrected as a goat, then as a tree, and eventually as a mineral.

Screen‘s Wendy Mitchell reports on what the jury said:

This is a beautifully evocative, humorous and subtle look at life and nature in deepest rural Italy. Never didactic or sentimental, the director takes creative risks and manages to pull them off. At a time when original film-making is so threatened, we feel it is entirely appropriate to award the Europa Cinemas Label to Le Quattro Volte, and to offer European audiences the opportunity of enjoying such a life-affirming view of a remote corner of our continent.

From Natasha Senjanovic of The Hollywood Reporter:

Frammartino uses his background as a video installation artist to create something that one could just as easily come across playing at an art gallery. The director simply turns on the camera and shows us the natural progression of time in a place where time seems to have stopped. Working from a quote from the School of Pythagoras β€” that each of us has four distinct lives within our one life, and thus must meet each other four times β€” the number four also represents four elements (man, animal, plant and mineral) and the four seasons.

I personally find the link with Pythagoras, whose work heavily influenced Plato and other subsequent philosophers, notable as the Ionian Greek philosopher spent a good deal of time in Crotone, Calabria; there he established a small group of followers, which actually may have led to the city’s troubles with nearby Sybaris, now only ruins near the current town of Sibari. Sybarites were famous for their enjoyments of all things luxurious — and they are why we still use the term “sybarites” for pleasure-seekers today — but their lifestyle did not exactly jibe with Pythagoras’ teachings.

What follows are the trailer of Le Quattro Volte, another set of clips, and an interview with Frammartino (in Italian):


I cannot wait to see this film.

8 Beans of Wisdom to “Le Quattro Volte: Cannes Winner Beautifully Describes Calabrian (and Universal) Life — Without Words”
  1. Gil

    I was about to congratulate you as I jumped the gun (as usual) and thought that somehow one of you goats was in the film!

    Magari, Gil! There’s another film with goats being filmed now with David Duchovny in Arizona (called, creatively, “Goats’)…don’t know *why* no one is calling Pasqualina and Pinta! πŸ˜‰

  2. Michele

    Looks interesting, I’ll definitely check it out. Is it going to be in theaters in Italy? They should be playing it in Calabria at least!

    Opens May 28 in Italy; not sure where, but it does have a websiteπŸ™‚

  3. 02.21.2011

    How interesting that you should come across what looks like a delightful film when you have been writing about The Simple Life. πŸ™‚

    Isn’t the Universe funny sometimes? πŸ˜‰

  4. 02.21.2011

    I hope I get to see this film; it looks amazing. I, too, thought maybe one of your goats got a starring role! By the way, I got to participate in a goat birthing a few weeks ago. It was magical and I was thinking about your experience and the video you posted about it. Those newborns are sooooo adorable. I will get some one of these days!

    Ah how lucky for you! It truly was one of the most special moments in my life πŸ™‚

  5. 02.23.2011

    Hi Michelle
    finally a nice film about Calabria and the South, I remember being really eally upset when Padre Padroni came out – it must have been at about the same time as the Shoes of Wooden Clogs. The Shoes of Wooden Clogs was lyrical, beautiful to look at, was sympathetic to the family. On the other hand, Padre Padroni was horrible …. So finally a nice film – cannot wait to see it. Where was it filmed? Where are the high pastures of Calabria?? the Sila?

    I haven’t been able to find out where it was filmed, Jo, but I do know the director is Milanese!

  6. 02.23.2011

    I just saw the film last night at a free screening for Melbourne International Film Festival members. It was absolutely charming, and though I did not know the background about the Pythagorian saying, I still got the message, and the first thing I did this morning when I got online was do a search for the film to find out more about it, it left that great an impression on me.

    That is how i found this blog, which is lovely, by the way. Well done! I like the philosophical angle.

    Calabria looks beautiful, and reminds me of some Croatian towns on the Adriatic which have the old houses on top of each other due to limited space and also have mediaeval walls which go right up across the mountains to try to keep the Turks out (it worked initially but most towns ended up getting invaded).

    I was surprised to see the eucalypts in the landscape, though I guess I shouldn’t be as I’ve seen them in Greece as well…they’re so much a part of our landscape here in Australia.

    How wonderful to hear from someone who has seen it; thanks so much for coming by, Amanda — and yes, we here in southern Italy have a lot in common with Croatia and Greece indeed πŸ™‚

  7. 02.26.2011

    I do hope the movie will have English subtitles. Also congratulations on your new direction for the blog. Change is always inevitable! Planning my trip back to Italy in September..sigh.

    Lenora, there’s no dialogue, so you’re safe πŸ™‚

  8. Well done! I like the philosophical angle and I excite for your next clip.

    Thanks, Alex!



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake