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"Non c'é pace tra gli ulivi" (No peace under the olive tree) is a powerful neorealist film. It was filmed in natural locations in the mountains of Ciociaria (the homeland of Giuseppe De Santis).. The landscape and people mix harmoniously together in this film that tells a story as old as humanity itself. The rocky mountainous landscape adds an epic scope and an exquisite beauty to the film.
"Non c'è pace tra gli ulivi" tells a story of revenge and solidarity A shepherd, Francesco (Ralf Vallone) after spending three years in the war (World War 2) and still more three years in jail, returns home. His old parents and sister had been left by themselves. A unscrupulous shepherd, Bonfiglio (Folco Lulli) had taken advantage of the state of chaos generated by the war to steal the flock of sheep that belonged to Francesco's family, leaving them destitute. And Bonfiglio doesn't stop at that by way of threats and cajolery he forces Lucia, Francesco's fiancée, (Lucia Bosè) to marry him. Bonfiglio is a man on the rise, slowly imposing his will on the other shepherds stealing, threatening and using force when necessary.
Francesco on his return finds his family completely impoverished, barely having enough to eat and his fiancée taken away by Bonfiglio (the same man that had stolen his family's flock of sheep!). But Francesco is not one of those men who put up with trouble without taking action. What will he do?
As you can see by my introduction, the story of the film is highly melodramatic, and the acting is also a bit exaggerated, but strangely enough this doesn't spoil the film, it rather stresses the strength of the story. The actors, the landscape and a story that seems to be taken from a Greek tragedy lend this film something almost cosmic and also very humanistic. Giuseppe De Santis's passion for his homeland and its people are shown in full force in "Non c'è pace tra gli ulivi".
Certainly "Non c'è pace tra gli ulivi" may not be not as truthful to reality as other neorealist films. Professional actors star in the main roles. Raf Vallone as Francesco and Lucia Bose (that two years earlier had been elected Miss Italy) could stand up as models for Latin beauty. And even Folco Lulli as the villain doesn't lose his humanity. In fact, one could say that "Non c'è pace tra gli ulivi " stems from the same sources that gave us Homer and Virgil. Following the classic patterns of the old masters, an old story of passion, greed and revenge is told.
The landscape, the dances of the shepherds, the songs, Lucia Bosè's beauty against the backdrop of the steep and rocky mountains of Ciociaria... enough said! "Non c'è pace tra gli ulivi" as well as other neorealist films of the time (for example, the classic "Riso Amaro" also directed by De Santis) caused a deep impression all around the world. Lima Barreto, a great Brazilian filmmaker, showed in "O Cangaceiro", filmed in 1953, that he had learned a thing or two with the Italian neorealist films.
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