Le Quattro Volte

Le Quattro Volte

A scene from THE FOUR TIMES, a film by Michelangelo Frammartino. Picture courtesy Lorber Films. All rights reserved.

Le Quattro Volte (2010/2011)

Also Known As: The Four Times

Opened: 03/30/2011 Limited

Film Forum/NYC03/30/2011 - 04/12/201114 days
Quad Cinema/NYC04/15/2011 - 05/05/201121 days
Kendall Square...04/15/2011 - 04/28/201114 days
The Nuart04/15/2011 - 04/21/20117 days
Music Box Thea...06/17/2011 - 06/23/20117 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Genre: Italian Drama

Rated: Unrated

Short Synopsis

Le Quattro Volte is a poetic vision of the revolving cycles of life and nature and the unbroken traditions of a timeless place, the story of one soul that moves through four successive lives.

An old shepherd lives his last days in a quiet medieval village perched high on the hills of Calabria, at the southernmost tip of Italy. He herds goats under skies that most villagers have deserted long ago. He is sick, and believes to find his medicine in the dust he collects on the church floor, which he drinks in his water every day. A new goat kid is born. We follow its first few tentative steps, its first games, until it gains strength and goes to pasture. Nearby, a majestic fir tree stirs in the mountain breeze and slowly changes through the seasons. The tree now lies on the ground. It has been reduced to its own skeleton, and is transformed into wood coal through the ancestral work of the local coal makers. Our sight gets lost in the ashes' smoke.

Long Synopsis

In the backcountry of southern Italy's mountainous region of Calabria, an old shepherd leads his flock to pasture along paths in the hills that have fallen into disuse. Every morning, the church housekeeper trades a handful of the church's dust for some of the shepherd's fresh milk. Every evening, the elderly shepherd dissolves the "magic" powder in water and drinks this mixture to remedy his aches and pains. One day, he doesn't show up for their trade. The next day, he dies in his bed as his goats keep vigil over his passing.

A kid takes its first steps, but he is slower than the rest of the flock and falls behind. He falls into a ditch in the middle of the forest. Unable to climb out, he bleats for help, but neither the shepherd nor his dog hear him. The flock leaves the kid in their wake, leaving him to his fate. When he finally emerges from the ditch, he finds that he is alone. He wanders aimlessly until, as night begins to fall, he stumbles onto a majestic fir tree and takes shelter.

The following spring, the village residents come to fell this tree for the annual "Pita" festivities, which have taken place there for centuries. They saw off its branches and carry its stately trunk back to the village, where it is erected in the main square.

Once the village festivities are over, the trunk of the fir tree is sold to coalmen. It is then cut into logs and used to build the hearth and chimney of the charcoal kiln where it will also be burned as fuel. The kiln, which has been covered in straw and clay, is lit and begins to smoke. Once the fire has gone out, this time-old technique, which has been passed down from generation to generation, will have transformed the living, vegetable matter of the wood into an inert, mineral matter which is brittle and crumble easily: charcoal.

Director's Statement

Calabria is a land that exerts an archaic fascination. It is a repository of ancient traditions. Its coalmen, for instance, have been applying the same methods to the same materials since the dawn of time. The popular knowledge that has survived in this region to this day betrays the influence of the Pythagorean school which was established here. This land has taught me to put man's role into perspective and turn my gaze away from him. Can cinema free itself of the dogma which dictates that human beings should occupy the leading role?

Le Quattro Volte encourages us to liberate our perspective. It urges the viewer to seek out the invisible connection which breathes life into everything that surrounds us. The film starts in a traditional way: by placing its focus on man. It then diverts the viewer's attention to man's surroundings: the objects that are usually a part of the scenery. The human being is removed and made to blend in with the background, and what was in the background is brought to the foreground, thereby giving way to a pleasant surprise: the animal, vegetable and mineral realms are granted as much dignity as the human one.

I believe that cinema is a tool which, more than any other form of expression, can highlight the connection between these realms. Finding this connection has been a cinematic adventure. When I watch a movie, I often have the impression that that which has been captured on film goes far beyond what the camera has recorded, as if the picture were a form of access to the invisible.

--Michelangelo Frammartino