Staff Recommendation: Le Quattro Volte

Cornerhouse Usher Hannah Dalby reviews Le Quattro Volte

Le Quattro Volte follows the quiet cycle of life in an unassuming Italian village. The film is roughly split into four parts to reflect natural life cycles and seasons, and cameras are set up in static positions around the village and surrounding countryside to add a real sense of space and time. 

Le Quattro Volte has minimal dialogue but I can genuinely say that dialogue isn’t needed – the countryside and its inhabitants are enough to captivate your attention.  The real stars of this show are the goats and some snails in a pot – I had no idea that goats were so good at getting up onto incredibly small surfaces, and getting down from them again!  

This film is not meant to be action packed but it does have direction, pace and some cleverly set-up sequences which add extra layers of interest.  I thoroughly enjoyed Le Quattro Volte; watching this film is almost like a meditation exercise and it left me completely engrossed.  Well worth a watch.

Course Programme Assistant and Usher Chris Daniels reviews Le Quattro Volte 

I’m sure to some, the idea of watching eighty eight minutes of a mostly silent Italian film with no dialogue that ‘stars’ an old man some goats and a tree, would send shivers down the spine, but this would be a big mistake to make. Michelangelo Frammartino’s Le Quattro Volte, a staggeringly mesmeric study on the perpetual cycles of life, is as sombre and serene as it is cathartic – and is not to be missed.

Filmed in an objective style that begins by following the daily routines of an old goat herder in the remote Italian region of Calabria, the slow pace of life in this archaic town is mirrored in the film’s editing and camerawork. We are offered no idyllic or quaint view of the countryside and the old man’s life seems isolated and desperately dependent on religious rituals and routine – until an extended choreographed scene transforms the film into metaphysical realms, referencing Pythagoras’s musings  on ‘The Four times’ or stages of life: that of human, animal, plant and mineral.

The film delights in a slow, inquisitive gaze and it references the cannon of Italian directors (such as Pasoloni or Rosselini) with its study of death, birth, ritual, civilisation and the repetitious cycle of nature. At the end of the film, Le Quattro Volte’s sense of timelessness becomes apparent to the viewer.

This is a poetic, subtle and often funny study of life in its many forms, and if you can adapt your cinematic viewing pace to take in this slow, carefully constructed and stunning film you will be richly rewarded.