While playing outside one day, nine-year-old Michele discovers Filippo, who is chained to the ground at the bottom of a hole. Michele witnesses town baddie Felice nearby and suspects something bad is happening. Michele is unsure whom he should tell about his discovery, eventually spilling the beans to his closest friend.Written by
The real mastery in this film lies in the beautiful simplicity of it's childlikeness. There are few movies in Cinema that portray the innocence and unfeigned nature of children - before the loss of their transparency on the way to adulthood. I know the French film Ponette might come to mind for some lovers of cinema, but that was shot entirely from the perspective of little children almost to the exclusion of grown ups. This film shows the stark contrast of the two worlds by interweaving them, with childhood itself being one of the main characters, as landscapes were for John Ford in so many of his Westerns. Toward the end, it reaches for the sublime in moments of Michelangelo.
For me, the emotional interaction of these very young non actors made the movie spiritual to some degree by way of it's sheer honesty, without compromising the true spirituality in the principles and very adult themes of good vs. evil, betrayal, forgiveness, reaping what you sow, the coming Judgment, and finally - true friendship born of selflessness. Something we adults could learn more from by becoming more like little children ourselves, myself included. I believe this to be one of the best expressions of the young mind in realism, without crossing over into the fantasy that is so common in film today. How refreshing.
Of course all of this speaks for the excellence of the Director and the Writer, who gave us such a beautiful picture. Something that could only be pulled off by adults, albeit with at least the fond memory of a child, if not the heart of one. The cinematography, the very intentional and gorgeous classical score, along with much subtle but deep contrast, make this a modern classic that I will enjoy again and again. I hope you do too.