Le Quattro Volte (Four Times) Of Life

Let’s take about ninety minutes and watch life in a village located on a mountain in Calabria, Italy.  Time here seems to have paused between the past and the present.

An aging goat herder and his collie guide their goats to the grassy slopes.  One can sense that the goat herder is stricken with some malady besides age.

At night before he retires, he pours the dust from the local church floor into a glass of water.  He believes the church dust contains remedial properties which will alleviate his nagging cough.

One night he discovers that he lost his dust on the grassy slopes.  He races to the church and pound on the doors to be let in to collect the essential dust.  Unfortunately, no one is there to open the doors. He dies soon after.

After his burial a baby kid is born.  The story follows the baby goat.  Unfortunately, the young goat becomes separated from the herd and seeks shelter for the night under an aging pine tree.  The night is pitch-black.

Winter comes with its fresh layers of snow.  Then Spring comes with its eternal recurrence.  The aged tree is felled and taken to the village for some sort of festival.

After the festival the tree is sawed into logs and taken to a charcoal production field.  The logs are placed around the wood pile.

The four times or four cycles are demonstrated without narrative or much dialog.  The viewer is a watcher of life in its various stages.

This Michelangelo Frammartino film is a layered composition; one could spend hours pondering the intricate meanings.  When you add the deft touches of Andrea Locatelli’s photography you have a pastoral creation which lingers with you after a bucolic stroll.

Giuseppe Fuda gives a striking performance as the goat herder living his last days on this planet traversing the cosmos.  His solitary journey on his road of life begs the question of his origins—was his father a goat herder or did he obtain this profession after living life differently?  It’s obvious he is a widower.

Many people yearn for travel and adventure.  Their village or hamlet is a place they seek to leave behind like a solitary cluster of grapes hanging silently and being touched by the late winds of fall.

For many they never really leave their place of origin.  They are born, live and die like their progenitors.

Henry David Thoreau said, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

I think the aged goat herder probably heeded Thoreau’s advice.  For him he followed his own music until the day he died in his bed.

I will not go into the various interpretations of this film, especially the belief in metempsychosis.  I will deal with this concept of Pythagoras in a future post.

For me the film was a simple story of a man, kid, tree and charcoal which is played out each day on this earth.  For all life is interconnected.

At the end of the road life ends sometimes beautifully and sometimes sorrowfully.  As the aged goat herder took his last breath, it was a moment of eventuality with no fanfare.  It was serene.

What fate awaited him in the cosmic ocean was his story, his song and his life.  Like the goat bells the melodies of human life tend to blend into those harmonious currents, those green waves of the primordial cosmic ocean above us where life began so very, very long ago.

G. D. Williams       © 2012


Calabria, Italy




Le Quattro Volte Trailer


Note: I watched this film on HULU.