Le Quattro Volte

March 27, 2013

As Easter approaches, I’m thinking about the themes of life, death, and resurrection (of a kind) in the 2010 Italian film ‘Le Quattro Volte’. In its press release, the director paraphrases Pythagoras, who lived in the 6th century, BC in what is now Calabria, Italy: “Each of us has four lives inside us which fit into one another. Man is mineral because his skeleton is made of salt; man is also vegetable because his blood flows like sap; he is animal in as much he is endowed with motility and knowledge of the outside world. Finally, man is human because he has the gifts of will and reason. Thus, we must know ourselves four times.”

Regardless of whether Pythagoras philosophy resonates, the film moved me as a meditation on life and death and time and beauty in a village up in the hills of Calabria. It’s tempting to say that the village is “isolated” and “remote” and “forgotten by time”, but these platitudes are not only cliché but untrue. Read the rest of this entry »

In the 1996 film ‘Traveling Companion’ (Compagna di viaggio), a young woman named Cora is hired to follow an elderly man, Cosimo, suspected of having dementia. Cosimo’s daughter is worried about him and wants to make sure he doesn’t get lost on one of his seemingly pointless trips around Rome, but since he’d balk at having someone accompany him, Cora must follow him undetected.

He doesn’t visit the Colosseum or the Spanish Steps or Campo dei Fiori, he doesn’t stroll up the Aventine Hill; there’s nary a picturesque piazza in sight in the course of his wanderings. Cora grows irritated as they move from one random outpost to another, but behind her impatience there is growing curiosity. One day she follows him to Termini station and watches, panicked, as he boards a train out of town. Where is he going? Must she follow? Read the rest of this entry »