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Michelangelo Frammartino: Le Quatre Volte

Le Quatre Volte by Festival de San Sebastián

Le Quattro Volte (EnglishThe Four Times) is an Italian film, made in 2010, about life in the remote mountain town of Caulonia, in southern Italy.[2][3]

The film comprises four phases or 'turns' following 
Pythagoras.[4] The turning of the phases occurs in Calabria where Pythagoras had his sect in Crotone. Pythagoras claimed he had lived four lives and this with his notion of metempsychosis is the structure of the film showing one phase and then turning into another phase. A famous anecdote is that Pythagoras heard the cry of his dead friend in the bark of a dog.[5]Plot

  • The first turn is the human realm and is about an old goatherd who is quite sick and who takes medicine from the dust from the church floor in water at night. This phase includes long 8 minute shot of the procession of the villagers culminating in the dog and truck episode so the goats occupy the village.
  • The second turn is the animal realm and is a study of a young goat, from its birth onwards.
  • The third turn is the plant realm and is a study of a fir tree. Eventually the tree is chopped down to be displayed in the town square and an evocation of cultural memory.
  • The fourth turn shows the mineral realm as the tree is made into charcoal for the townspeople's fires.
This phase, as charcoal is not a mineral in any modern definitions, points to a remembering of bio-cultural processes.
The fire and smoke point to carbon at the heart of the homes in the village delivered by the truck evoking human reason as the final understanding of the interaction of these turns and the true place of the human in the scheme of things.


There is virtually no dialogue in the film. The film was written and directed by Michelangelo Frammartino[6] and stars Giuseppe FudaBruno TimpanoNazareno Timpano andArtemio Vellone.[7]


Le Quattro Volte has received widespread critical acclaim. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 92% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 52 reviews, with an average score of 8/10, making the film a "Certified Fresh" on the website's rating system, with the consensus "Birth, death, and transformation are examined in Le Quattro Volte, a profound and often funny mediation on the cycles of life on earth.".[8] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 80, based on 16 reviews, which indicates "Generally favorable reviews".[9]
Jonathan Romney, writing in The Independent on Sunday, described Le Quattro Volte as "both magnificent and magnificently economical", remarking "I like to think that it's possible for cinema to make profound cosmological statements without having to go all Cecil B. DeMille".[3] Romney finds the film "the freshest and the deepest film I've encountered in a while", and "one of those rare films that anyone could enjoy, whether or not they normally care for slow Italian art cinema".[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Le Quattro Volte (2010)"Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  2. ^ British Film Institute. Le Quattro Volte + Q&A. Director Michelangelo Frammartino talks about Le Quattro Volte BFI Live BFI video
  3. a b c Le Quattro Volte, Michelangelo Frammartino, 88 mins, U. Jonathan Romney. The Independent on Sunday. 29 May 2011. Review in The Independent on Sunday
  4. ^ Phillips, Michael (June 16, 2011). "Pastoral depiction of Pythagoras' theory"Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 20 February 2013. "The 6th century philosopher Pythagoras believed that the soul undergoes four discrete lives as it phases from human to animal to vegetable to mineral states."
  5. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, viii. 36
  6. ^ Michelangelo Frammartino on IMDB
  7. ^ Andreas Wiseman. "Michelangelo Frammartino talks to Andreas Wiseman about his latest film, Le Quattro Volte" Interview in Screen Daily, 11 November 2010
  8. ^ "The Four Time (Le Quattro Volte) - Rotten Tomatoes"Rotten TomatoesFlixster. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  9. ^ "The Four Time (Le Quattro Volte) Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic"MetacriticCBS Interactive. Retrieved February 1, 2013.

External links[edit]

Le quattro volte, the Italian Fantasy by Michelangelo Frammartino

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LE QUATTRO VOLTE is an ineffably beautiful meditation on the mysterious cycles of life. Set in Italy's mountainous region of Calabria, it traces the path of one goat herder's soul as it passes from human to animal to vegetable to mineral. Director Michelangelo Frammartino was inspired by Pythagoras' belief in "four-fold transmigration" of souls but his film is far more physical than philosophical. In gorgeous long takes, he captures the daily routines of the herder, a baby goat, an imperious tree and a humble charcoal kiln. Plus there is a scene-stealing cameo from a stubborn sheepdog who hilariously interrupts an Easter Procession. Working as both a spiritual investigation and a documentary of Calabrian life, LE QUATTRO VOLTE's placid surface hides a complex understanding of humanity. Everything is connected in Frammartino's sublimely mystical universe in which he finds both humor and pathos in the hypnotic rhythms of everyday life.   Eternal Complexities of the Very Simple Life   By A. O. SCOTT “Le Quattro Volte,” an idiosyncratic and amazing new film by Michelangelo Frammartino, is so full of surprises — nearly every shot contains a revelation, sneaky or overt, cosmic or mundane — that even to describe it is to risk giving something away. At the same time, the nervous reviewer’s convention of posting “spoiler alerts” has rarely seemed so irrelevant. Would I ruin tomorrow by telling you the sun is going to rise? Will your life be spoiled if I divulge that it will end in your death? Mortality looms large among Mr. Frammartino’s concerns, but there is nothing grim or dispiriting about this film, his second feature. On the contrary, “Le Quattro Volte” packs more life into 88 minutes than movies twice as long, patiently surveying the human and natural landscapes of a remote valley in the southern Italian region of Calabria. In four chapters — the movie’s title can be translated as “The Four Times” — Mr. Frammartino successively chronicles the earthly transit and material transmutation of an old man, a young goat, a tree and a batch of charcoal. Each being or thing is examined with such care and wit that you become engrossed in the moment-to-moment flow of cinematic prose, only at the end grasping the epic scope and lyrical depth of what you have seen, which is more or less all of creation. Mr. Frammartino has chosen a place where the incursions of modernity are minimal. There are motor vehicles and utility poles, but otherwise human existence seems to follow an ancient pattern. And yet, perhaps paradoxically, that sense of antiquity gives the film its almost jarring freshness, its uncanny sense of discovery. There is no dialogue, oral discourse being irrelevant to Mr. Frammartino’s concerns. You hear murmurs of human speech, but they are unintelligible and not translated by subtitles. Nor are the barking of a dog, the bleating of goats or the wind sighing in the branches of the gigantic pine that is the film’s totem and tragic hero. And yet, in spite of the director’s observant naturalism and indifference to the usual expectations of plot, character and performance, “Le Quattro Volte” is not a documentary. It has nothing urgent to say about the social conditions in rural Italy, about environmental conditions or peasant customs, even as it sheds interesting light on all of those matters. You can learn something about folk remedies, superstitions and agricultural practices, about how residents of the valley gather snails, treat respiratory ailments and manufacture fuel to heat their homes and cook their food. And this information is conveyed with a clarity and directness that mask Mr. Frammartino’s extraordinary formal sophistication. Using the sweeping perspectives afforded by the precipitously hilly terrain, he composes frames with the skill of a painter and the wit of a silent-film maestro. Perhaps the most sustained, dramatic (and hilarious) example is a sequence involving a truck, a dog and the inevitable goats, whose physical properties and animal natures combine in a complicated, elegantly staged accident. The operations of cause and effect are as airtight as the outcome is absurd, as if the laws of the universe were rigged for comic effect. And Mr. Frammartino observes and manipulates them as deftly — and as rigorously — as Buster Keaton did in “The General,” the most Newtonian of his farces. Humor — generated by incongruities of scale, the workings of chance and the intrinsic preposterousness of goats, snails and people — amounts almost to a philosophical stratagem, a way of exploring how the world works and how it looks. What is perhaps most remarkable about “Le Quattro Volte” is that it is at once completely accessible and endlessly mysterious. If you pay attention, you see what is going on and grasp the connections between the different things you see, none of which are terribly unfamiliar. But there is something startling, even shocking, about the angle of vision Mr. Frammartino imposes by juxtaposing apparently disparate elements and lingering on what seem at first to be insignificant details. You have never seen anything like this movie, even though what it shows you has been there all along. LE QUATTRO VOLTE Opens on Wednesday in Manhattan. Written and directed by Michelangelo Frammartino; director of photography, Andrea Locatelli; edited by Benni Atria and Maurizio Grillo; production design by Matthew Broussard; costumes by Gabriella Maiolo; produced by Marta Donzelli, Gregorio Paonessa, Susanne Marian, Philippe Bober, Gabriella Manfrè, Elda Guidinetti and Andres Pfaeffli; released by Lorber Films. At Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, west of Avenue of the Americas, South Village. Running time: 1 hour 28 minutes. This film is not rated. WITH: Giuseppe Fuda (the Shepherd), and Bruno Timpano and Nazareno Timpano (Coal Makers). Beautiful and Serene By DukeD1989 "Le Quattro Voltre" or `The Four Times' is a slow moving and beautiful work of art. A silent and serene portrayal of the ideas of Pythagoras and transmigration, the idea of the soul being reincarnated again and again into humans, animals, vegetables and minerals until it is immortal; a continuous cycle of creation and existence. All of which is seen from a distance, with no dialogue or soundtrack and just the sounds of nature to accompanying the images on screen. At first we observe an old shepherd tending his flock, drinking a home remedy of water and dust from the floor of a local church, until his sudden death which is immediately proceed by the birth of a goat whose life comes to an end under a tree, which is cut down and used for a village ritual and later burned in the creation of coal, all ending in a puff of smoke from a lone chimney as ashes and dust enter the air, some of which to inevitably gather on the church floor, everything coming full circle. The view of the order of the world, of these people, of life and creation, existence, and superstition are all so clear it is as if you are discovering something that has been there all along but are only now recognizing, like an acknowledgement of complex themes for the first time done through the simplest means. By simple I mean restrained and meditative. I was personally surprised in how given the lack of any real action or narrative it still managed to be totally engrossed within every second of every frame. Whether it was a moment of subtle and natural humor, or due to hypnotic events including an astonishing longshot involving a dog and a truck; it all builds up to an enlightening revelation in the very end, the sort that makes you rethink and reexamine everything that had come before it and naturally leads to further pondering on its themes and meanings long after its conclusion. It truly is an incredibly fascinating piece of art that from a distance many would probably expect couldn't say much, and under another director that would have most likely been true, but Michelangelo Frammartino's ability to be so minimalistic yet still communicate on such a cosmic scale is as mystifying as it is refreshing and the reason it works. This is a wonderful achievement, however it is not for those unattuned to any sort of art-house cinema and most are better off ignoring this, the majority of the general movie going audience in fact would probably find it to be a tedious and monotonous affair. On the other hand, for those interested and willing to sit quietly and observe while allowing themselves to be overcome by a surreal and profound work of art this is the `must see' film of the year. Who Sees It Once Should See It Twice By Joseph L. Ponessa This is a review of the blu-ray of LE QUATTRO VOLTE (The Four Times). My grandparents came from Calabria, and I have been there several times to see the relatives. Calabria is not the land that time forgot, but it is the land that does not want to be noticed, because "vogliono i sordi" -- "they want to take our money." This film pulls away the Calabrian veil and invites us into the life of an old shepherd, a kid goat, a tree and a wisp of smoke. Oh, but they are a single character! The film is full of characters, all of them lovable, but especially the dog (whose name in real life is Vuk) who manages to upstage the Good Friday procession, and Pythagoras too. The film starts very slowly and deliberately and requires about thirty minutes of patience, and then, all of a sudden, the dog provides an incredibly well choreographed sequence of comic scenes. I was so taken with this sequence that I had to pause the film and go get a breath of fresh air and find a friend to watch the film with, then start over. The second time (a segunda volta) I noticed small details that were invisible the first time (a prima volta). The old man picks up a rock from the side of the road, sets it on top of his bucket of snails, then when the snails get loose throws the rock out his window, and that same rock is used to brake the truck tire before the procession, and the dog climaxes his big scene by removing the rock, sending the truck rolling downhill to smash through the goat pen, releasing the goats into town while it is depopulated during the Good Friday ritual. How so much action could be involved with one simple prop, a rock, is amazing. When a film is set in the spectacular mountain country of Calabria, who needs SFX or CGI? The anamorphic widescreen picture is very clear and allows an excellent view of the panoramic landscapes and picturesque village architecture. So the film requires some patience to view, but gives good payback. This is not a tease like so many artsy films, where it seems like nothing is happening and it really isn't. Here very little is happening most of the time, but a lot is happening some of the time, and the short film manages to cover four reincarnations, which is quite a bit of territory when you think about it. The film is great in the little details of Calabrian life, and great in the big sweep of philosophical thought, even though there is no dialogue or musical score whatsoever. This film is not for everyone, but anyone who sees it once should see it twice. HYPNOTIC & PROFOUND -- EMBRACE THE MYSTERY OF LIFE By Robin Simmons Every now and then a movie comes along that defies traditional story-telling techniques and yet is so hypnotically compelling that it resides in some deep level of one's soul or psyche. Michael Frammartino's ephemeral, ineffable and sublime visit to Italy's mountain region of Calabria allows us to participate in the mysterious village life and especially that of an aged goat herder. There's hardly a spoken word in the long takes that evoke the rituals of life and death and rebirth. If words could do justice to this beautiful and mysterious movie, then there would be little reason to experience the film itself. According to several interviews, director Frammartino has suggested he was inspired by Pythagoras' belief in a "four fold" transmigration of the soul. The title literally translates as "The Four Times." But I think this is just a ruse, because what we actually experience is the strange human rites of passage and celebration that no longer have obvious meaning to outside eyes, yet are so utterly human.

The extraordinary cinematography plays with textures, light natural sounds and the lulling jingle of goat bells in such a way as to suggest a lucid dream. I loved this movie and for 88 minutes I was transported to another time and place that will always reside within. What's most amazing is that the film is like an extended meditation. I found myself pondering not so much the meaning of life but the truth of how everything is connected and though we struggle with our frail mortality, there is always mystery and beauty that remains. There's ancient wisdom here. You'll either get it or not. Finally, embracing the mystery of life is all we can do, and this extraordinary film does it with a rare eloquence and elegance.

Don't miss this hypnotic and profound cinematic meditation.

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