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Nostos: The Return (1990)
"Nostos: Il ritorno" (original title)

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At the end of the war, Odysseus, the wandering hero, with his companions begins his sail back home to the Mediterranean. The conclusion of his adventure is delayed by many natural obstacles... See full summary »



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Credited cast:
Luigi Mezzanotte ...
Alex Carozzo
Giuseppe Marcoli
Paola Agosti
Mirella Fabbri
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Branca de Camargo ...


At the end of the war, Odysseus, the wandering hero, with his companions begins his sail back home to the Mediterranean. The conclusion of his adventure is delayed by many natural obstacles and he takes an internal journey of fleeting memories of his childhood, his parents, love for a beautiful girl, nostalgia for the past, regret for what he did, and the deep silence that envelops everything. He confronts the most terrible loneliness following a shipwreck in which all the comrades perish. Written by Steve

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Scraps of A Wordless Journey
22 April 2013 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

Saying that Franco Piavoli is the Italian Terrence Malick is just as much as a truth as an insult. They both are heavily influenced by poetry in their film-making, and both like to minimize dialogue as much as possible, and offer more attention to nature. But, Piavoli's film-making is on a completely different level: he takes it to the extreme. "Nostos: The Return" features little dialogue, and all of it is spoken in Ancient Greek; unless there's a version circling around with subtitles, there's no way any of it is comprehensible.

The film narrates what presumably is the story of Ulysses' return to Ithaca after the Trojan War: in other words, it's a partial adaptation of the Odyssey. But most of Ulysses' adventures are not shown here. We start the journey on his boat, with his crew members. They reach an island where they're seduced by mysterious women in a dark cave. They go back to the ship, but that night a tempest hits them, an Ulysses finds himself on the island of Calypso shipwrecked, with all of his companions gone swept away by the storm. From the island, he finds a way to go back to his long-yearned home, Ithaca.

A visual poem like no other ever made, "Nostos: The Return" paints the physical and emotional journey of a man as he roams a natural kingdom in eerie silence across sea and land. This is where the peculiar use of sound must be mentioned: because according to this reviewer, "Nostos" is sonically the most beautifully designed film ever made. The silence of the men allows there to be an authentic orchestra of natural sounds effects: on the ship waves, seagulls, the creaks of wood; on land, the sound of birds and insects. Although on words it seems hardly a bold artistic move, all of the sounds, including the little dialogue, stretch out for quite a long time, with of course variations on the surface, to create this trance-like aura that is incredibly musical, and is almost an unreal experience for your ears. There's also quite a bit of original score syncopated with these magical sounds, to say the least some of the most heavenly sounding of all time. The visual side of things is just as enchanting: Franco Piavoli's bold close-ups ¬–in which the subject is never the center of the frame¬– are like paintings, but his wide shots are equally breathtaking, as well as his delicate sense of movement and his unique editing chops that strongly resembles Malick in some spots.

"Nostos: The Return" might just be the most beautiful film ever made, yet, it has hardly been seen by anyone. It is one of those films that strongly resembles watching an eighty-minute dream projected on screen, or a bit like an out-of-body experience set in a nameless land, untouched by human suffering, uncontaminated by a need of direction and by a clear sense of narration.

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