Documents the summer days in 2003 leading up to the running of Siena's Palio, a horse race around the city center, that dates back hundreds of years. Seventeen neighborhoods compete. This ...
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Documents the summer days in 2003 leading up to the running of Siena's Palio, a horse race around the city center, that dates back hundreds of years. Seventeen neighborhoods compete. This film follows the contrada of Civetta (owl), which hasn't won since 1979. We see that glorious victory, we meet people young and old for whom each year's Palio is life's most important event, we see the drawing that assigns a horse to each contrada, and we observe the feasting and pageantry beforehand. Then, the running of the race: will Civetta experience the elation of victory or the bitterness of loss?Written by
The curious title refers to the last time the district of Civetta won the Palio in 1979. Il Palio is distinctive because the jockeys do not represent the 17 districts of the Siennese region - the horses do. This film trains its eye on the Civetta community, desperate for a win in the race after a drought of over 20 years. See more »
THE LAST VICTORY may appear on the DVD cover to be a story film, but in truth it is a documentary - in other words the story within the film is true and untampered. That fact makes the film even more entertaining, especially to those who love Italy and the traditions about which the casual visitor knows too little.
In Siena there is an annual horserace called the 'Palio' in the city's center piazza (Piazza del Campo). The event dates back to medieval times and represents the theme of solidarity of the seventeen various neighborhoods (contrada) of Siena, each of which has a symbol and a coat of arms with accompanying flags and regalia. THE LAST VICTORY follows one of these contrada - Civetta - as its closely bonded families prepare for the Palio. They wear the colors, they set up long tables of food, and they raise money to compete in the race. A few days before the Palio each contrada wins a horse through what seems like a lottery and that horse is praised by the populace, a jockey is chosen and the race begins.
The tender part of this ritual is supported by the fact that director John Appel has selected members of Civetta - Egidio Mecacci, Paolo Rossi, Alma Savini, Roberto Papei, Camilla Marzucchi and others - and follows their moods and exceitement and preparation for the big event. The 92 year old Egidio is perhaps the most charismatic as he relates the sad history that that the Civetta has not won the race since 1979 and all hopes 'ride' on the beautiful horse that is assigned to them. The preparations are intense: the piazza is ringed with dirt over the stones to create a running track, the horse is groomed, and the members of the neighborhood gather and sing and eat in hopes they will win the Palio. The ending of the race is best left for the viewer to see, but in the course of just over a minute the race is complete and the impact the results have on the Civetta are telling.
Appel and his crew have captured the essence of an important Sienese tradition and this little quiet film shares insights into the Italian sense of camaradiere and familia that is all too rarely seen today. The film is touching and worth viewing - for education and for entertainment well presented as a documentary. Grady Harp
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