When the husband’s away, the mice shall watch a three hour long Italian pastoral movie. The Tree of Wooden Clogs is one of those films that I have had on my ‘to watch’ list for the best part of a decade – just because of the name. I added Spirit of the Beehive to my list at the same time for the same reason, it’s just that I got around to watching that film a lot earlier.
I think that I added The Tree of Wooden Clogs to my list around the time I first saw Pan’s Labyrinth in the cinema. So I probably added this thinking that there was an actual tree that grew clogs rather than it being a physical tree that is used to make a pair of clogs whose cutting down is a pivotal moment in the narrative. Wow, that sentence was a bit of a mouthful, wasn’t it.
Rather than being something fanciful, this Cannes Palme D’or winner is rooted in the Italian tradition of neo-realism. We spend the three hours following four peasant families in 1898 Italy. We watch them as they try to scratch out a living that is enough to pay off the master and keep them… alive.
It’s one of those films where your enjoyment of it hinges on your ability to sit through three hours of the human experience. Also, where your sensibilities lie about seeing a pig being slaughtered onscreen. I’ve never heard those noises coming from a big and I don’t really want to hear those again. Yes, I know this shows that I am a sheltered city boy, but I don’t care. That was horrible.
As with Stalker there are a lot of things in this film where I can understand the positive critical opinion. However, yet again, I found myself bored. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t in the mind of a semi-documentary or because I distanced myself from the film after the first animal slaughter. Still, it’s an interesting and different film to have seen. It helps put a lot of things into perspective.