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Il mestiere delle armi (2001)

The history of the first victim of modern artillery and its moving agony, amidst conspiracies and betrayals of the powerful. Life and death of Giovanni De' Medici, a young brave captain in ... See full summary »



21 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sergio Grammatico ...
Federico Gonzaga
Dimitar Ratchkov ...
Luc'Antonio Cuppano
Fabio Giubbani ...
Matteo Cusastro
Sasa Vulicevic ...
Pietro Aretino
Maria Salviati de Medici (as Desislava Tenekedjieva)
Nobildonna di Mantova
Franco Andreani ...
Ambasciatore di Carlo V
Giancarlo Belelli ...
Bruno Bendoni ...
Benedetto Agnello
Silvio Cappellini ...
Maestro Habram
Vittorio Corcelli ...
Frate domenicano
Marco De Biagi ...
Alessandro Genovesi ...
Ufficiale posto di guardia


The history of the first victim of modern artillery and its moving agony, amidst conspiracies and betrayals of the powerful. Life and death of Giovanni De' Medici, a young brave captain in the war of Charles V against the Pope, in the first half of 1500. Written by Francesco Benzi <f.benzi@libero.it>

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Drama | History | War


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Release Date:

11 May 2001 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

El oficio de las armas  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Narrator: [in the beggining of the movie] Who created these horrible weapons? From there, the war and carnage started And the way to a cruel death was open. However, don't blame this miserable. We're the ones who don't know how to use what he gave us. To defend ourself from the wild animals.
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Version of The Violent Patriot (1956) See more »

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User Reviews

Magnificent production from Ermanno Olmi
31 October 2001 | by (Italy) – See all my reviews

This is an absolute must for anybody interested in Olmi's work or in the Italian Renaissance. One of the best Italian productions in years.

As usual, Olmi concentrates on the grey landscapes of his native Padana plains, engulfed in a swirling fog dominating the human figures which move through it, in an atmosphere of timeless melancholiness. As in its masterpiece, "L'albero degli zoccoli", Olmi successfully tries to paint a picture of the characters' feelings and strivings through the pitfalls of a difficult existence, devoid of any intrinsec meaning.

Do not misunderstand me - this is none of the pacifist crap fashionable amongst trendy critics and intellectuals. Neither it is a convoluted attempt to convey "profound" sociological or psychoanalytical concepts. That's why it didn't win the prize it deserved at Cannes. The film is rather an attempt to represent the reality of human loneliness and meaninglessness within a particular historical setting: that of a time when soldiery was still a "mestiere", a job, a professional choice devoid of the religious overtones which national myths have impressed on it in later times.

The Generals of both armies are no heroes, but rather human beings endowed with very human needs - Giovanni writes his loving wife to send him underpants, and his far less loving uncle, the Pope, to send him some money to pay his men. These are poor and humiliated men, fighting in the pope's behalf, and receiving blessings (instead of money) in exchange. Their one solace through religion consists in the act of burning churches and crosses to warm themselves a little - "That's the Christ of us poor people, he will help us", they say finding a huge wooden crucifix, and the face of the Christ being burnt is a testimony to their grieves. But the leader of the German Landsknechten, famous von Freundsberg, is also an old man who, for all his vain ferocity, is forced to go back to Germany after his victory because of his old age and illnesses.

The peasants fleeing through the fog, or hung by the German troopers, are wistful - more than tragic - elements of an unmoving landscape, mute testimony to the eternal cycles of war, of suffering, of pathetic strives to win victories that will be forgotten one day or week or month later, as new puppets will "strut and fret their hours upon the stage, and then will be heard no more" (from the famous monologue of Macbeth).

A masterpiece from Ermanno Olmi. A film worth seeing wherever you live.

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