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L'albero degli zoccoli
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Tree of Wooden Clogs More at IMDbPro »L'albero degli zoccoli (original title)

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40 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

How to film an epic.

10/10
Author: anna-k-2 from United Kingdom
9 May 2006

Yes, it lasts three hours. Yes, it is about a village community where nothing much happens. Not your typical man save-woman blow-up joint scenario, definitely. All this is said on the package, therefore I truly do not understand people who criticise this film for slowness. OF COURSE it is going to be slow, what do you expect? After this private note, some review. The film is excellent and highly recommendable for many reasons. First of all, the shooting: the use of non-professional actors,authentic settings and a real-life focus makes this film feel like a documentary, although it is set over a hundred years in the past. It therefore gives an unprecedented opportunity to peek into the life of rural Lombardy at the turn of the centuries. Secondly, the plot. Slow as it is, it sucks you in nonetheless, as you get emotionally involved with the beautifully depicted community of families. Full of small and big dramas, the film does not cease to surprise till the very end. Finally, perhaps the biggest asset of the movie is the loving, but realistic depiction of the times. There is dirt, hard work and cow dung, but there is also nature, family, and most importantly - love. If you speak some Italian, the additional perk is the beautiful dialect. Highly, highly recommend!

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45 out of 59 people found the following review useful:

One of the Greats

10/10
Author: Jean-7 from Seattle
24 January 2001

Very rarely, films transcend their medium and break through into some other dimension. These are not merely technically superb films with fine cinematography and wonderful performances. Rather, something else has been addressed; at the risk of seeming pompous, I'd call it "what it means to be human." Maybe some of you know what I'm talking about. After the film is over, you walk out into the world and your life has changed in some fundamental way. You actually experience colors and shapes and smells afresh, as though you've re-emerged into a different universe.

I can think of several films that have had that effect on me. Eric Rohmer's "Summer (Le Rayon Vert)" and Kieslowski's "Decalogue" spring to mind. But "Tree of Wooden Clogs" approached the core. I'm not Catholic, would pronounce myself an atheist if that didn't suggest the arrogance of certainty, but this movie comes as close to touching the soul as any I've ever seen. It is one of the most shattering, delightful, and profound works of art ever created. After first seeing it, I sat in my car, clutched the steering wheel, and sobbed for half an hour.

Since that day, many years ago, moments from it continue to haunt me. I'll be walking down a street lined with trees and remember the boy walking home from school. Out of the blue, the looks on the faces of the just-married young couple as they adopt a child will come to me. And, of course, the image of the villagers watching the lone wagon disappear into the darkness is one which will live with me until I die.

In short, as I stumble my own way through life, this film is one of the touchstones that reminds me why I'm here.

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33 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

Sweeping piece of art

10/10
Author: Axel Mishael Muñoz (swingo@cbgb.net) from Aguascalientes, Ags.
7 November 2004

The last time I felt swept and moved by a movie with so much depth was when I saw "Andrei Rublev" and "Eternity and a Day", and this movie is such like them when it fails to become a movie and becomes a modern piece of art.

It was like if someone would've been reading me a poem whilst watching such beautiful landscapes. And all through that, you feel in your own skin the love for their own soil. it seems as if they had been rooted to the grounds.

Certainly it is not for everyone's tastes but it is truly a moving experience.

Axel.

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24 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Sacramental epic.

Author: Gerald A. DeLuca (italiangerry@gmail.com) from United States
4 December 2001

If there were any reason for dropping out of normal life and dedicating oneself entirely to watching Italian films, this might be it! The majestic simplicity and dignity of this film make even the best contemporary films seem trivial and stillborn by comparison. Loved by sensitive audiences and critics alike, Ermanno Olmi's movie describes incidents in the lives of four families sharecropping in Lombardy at the coming of the twentieth century. Olmi's extraordinary command of imagery, movement, rhythm, and lighting conveys a potent nostalgia for Earth and the family of man. There is a scene in which images of a father carving clogs for his shoeless boy are intercut with the lives of the farm families. The music accompanying that scene is a Bach organ chorale. The effect is almost sacramental and entirely overwhelming and may be one of my favorite scenes in all cinema. That scene alone is worth more than all the digitalized special effects, car crashes, ocean liner sinkings, and the deafening Dolby vapidity of so much of the inane junk embraced undiscriminatingly by so many. If they only had the eyes to see, ears to hear, and the soul to love this wondrous work of art!

The most authentic version on this film has the original Bergamasco dialect track. The newer DVDs from Italy have the option of choosing this soundtrack.

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21 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

A sublime hypnotic narrative.

10/10
Author: Rigor from Chicago, USA
9 May 1999

This film really surprises. It is long and detailed, yet, it is amazingly suspenseful. The quiet sturdy look at rural life in Italy manages to accomplish the amazing feet of truly "being" a film of "the oppressed" rather than a mere analysis of "the wretched of the earth". Olmi's direction of the non-professional cast is superb and the film is beautifully shot and edited.

Don't be afraid of this film. It does not actually seem long, nor does it seem aimless or plotless. While one may say that "the whole pesant community" is the real protagonist there are clearly defined characters in the film whose narratives we follow. In fact, the films strategy is one of integration of these narrative strands in a seemingly coherent and logical way. A wonderful, very emotionally moving experience with a clear, sharp, political analysis.

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27 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

The film will be with me for a long time.

Author: Michael Sapienza (new1sapi@tir.com) from Livonia, Michigan
7 May 1999

An artistic masterpiece that almost any observant Catholic will cherish, especially an Italian Catholic. It is unclear how nonbelievers will connect to the film. By watching the film one discovers that while material possessions may make life easier they certainly can be a stumbling block on the path to sanctity. These peasants really put late twentieth century American Catholics to shame.

The film slowly unveils to the viewers one year in the life of Italian peasants at the close of the nineteenth century. That's about it. There's no hero, no antagonist, and no great wrong that gets set right; it's simply a slice of life. I do not want to reveal too much of the story because I think it will spoil it for the viewer.

The film can serve as an educational tool for viewers with children. It's like going to an outdoor historical museum, only the viewer gets to see everything that it would take one whole year to see at the museum (without the crowds). For example, the director takes the time to show painstakingly what it was like to wash clothes one hundred years ago. It's essentially a living documentary of late nineteenth century Italian provincial life.

Most American audiences will have to get used to the slow pace of the film. Even the humor is extremely subtle. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the pace. The pace was silent, peaceful, and steadfast just as the families are in the film. To me it is an escape (ironically an escape from an escape) from many of today's films that just explode with sound effects and rock music; films that move at blurring speed with scene cuts that are made with the intent to maximize audience stimulation but often with the result of increasing our stress level. This movie is a restful reprieve.

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15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

jump in

10/10
Author: RanchoTuVu from Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
29 August 2005

A mosaic of peasant life in Lombardy at the turn of the twentieth century that slowly moves along for three hours but never comes close to losing interest thanks to the wealth of details and (though amateur) moving performances. In the title lies the heartwrenching conclusion abruptly reached after the meandering and soulful journey that is taken into the lives of a group of peasant families, with the butchering of a goose and later a pig, a marriage, a boatride to Milan, and a dinner amongst the sisters of a convent while the stirrings of political change and repression stay mainly in the background but are there to see. While the focus is on the peasants, the world that the movie creates is more like being there than any other film around.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Peasant life of religion & superstitions: beautiful & sympathetic historical view

9/10
Author: Semi-evolutionary from United States
31 January 2009

This is a really beautiful film. I am neither Italian, nor Catholic (nor even religious at all in the usual sense) but found this to be wonderful and involving. (I know Italy, and love it, though.) Taking place in around the turn of the previous century, the simple life of farming tenants on a lord's estate is portrayed with great charm and simple respect. You get a fascinating look at what to us now of course seems a backward combination of ancient religious myths and medieval magic, all believed in the hope of a better life in what is a difficult existence. Yet there is a hint of the modern world to come in the distant shouts and arrests of political activists glimpsed to the side, who are advocating a more fair economy, and less dependence on outmoded beliefs. The warm and dignified life of the loving families is quite believable, and no need to judge the comforts they cling to. In terms of length an pacing, it takes its time, it is true, but it is really worth it. A sort of living demonstration of the enduring human spirit, and the passing of time and history---even as old ways are dimly remembered and treasured for their sentiment.

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13 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Speaks to the soul in a voice of simple beauty that declares that money is not the ultimate key to survival.

8/10
Author: cnault from boston, ma
17 November 1999

The "Tree of Wooden Clogs", set at the turn of the last century, is the perfect film to watch as we approach the year 2000. The institutions of religion, marriage, and family have been (sometimes rightfully so) scrutinized and criticized over the last 100 years. However, the "Tree of Wooden Clogs" aptly celebrates these institutions as engines of survival. The slow pace of the film may not be for everyone but the serene simplicity of this film sparks more beauty than most of the high-tech films of today.

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14 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

An excellent portrayal of Italian peasant life

8/10
Author: mctheimer from Bellevue, Washington, USA
4 April 2000

This movie could have been made any time after the development of color film. Unless you look at the tape jacket, you wouldn't know what year it had been filmed. It is timeless.

"Tree" follows the lives of three peasant families in the Lombardy (northern) region of Italy. The historical accuracy appears to be quite high. You'll learn how things were done before electricity, the automobile, etc. Watching this film reminded me of visiting Bali or Morocco; I felt immersed in another culture in another time.

The downside is that, of course, peasants don't live terribly exciting lives, and this is a long movie. There isn't really a plot driving the film. What I considered to be the action scenes are grisly; livestock is slaughtered on camera, and it's clear that you are watching the real thing. (I almost started crying while watching a pig as it is was slaughtered; it was squealing loudly as it was literally eviscerated while it was still alive.)

This is a contemplative film. The film which I think would be an interesting companion piece would be "The Scent of Green Papaya," a Vietnamese film with about the same pace and purpose.

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