Padre Padrone

1977 [ITALIAN]

Biography / Drama

0
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 75%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 78%
IMDb Rating 7.4 10 3741

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
April 07, 2021 at 11:07 AM

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720p.BLU
1.02 GB
1204*720
Italian 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 53 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Teyss 10 / 10

Compelling metaphor on traditions, education and coming of age

"Padre Padrone" ("Father Master" in Italian) is inspired by Gavino Ledda's autobiography. The book provides invaluable insight on living conditions and bigger-than-life anecdotes. The movie transforms this authentic account into a metaphor on traditions, knowledge, emancipation and growing up.

The movie only adapts selected passages of the book as usual (notably because of length), but interestingly adds a few scenes: men arguing and promising to leave Sardinia during the religious procession; Gavino peeing from the truck taking them away; Gavino and Cesare speaking Latin in the tank, etc. Logically, these scenes have a strong visual impact. Also, the father's role is more developed in the movie and we perceive how he thinks: he is a victim of the system like Gavino, even though they fight back differently.

EDUCATION

The metaphorical dimension is first expressed by the presence of Ledda himself at the beginning and at the end: the movie is hence put into perspective; we understand it carries a message. The actual life of Ledda is almost an allegory in itself: mostly alone when he was a child with limited communication possibilities, illiterate, he ultimately becomes... a famous linguist.

The movie illustrates this journey progressively:

  • First there is silence, depicted by a bell ringing when Gavino is alone in the mountains, as well as in military class (he hence remains lonely despite being surrounded by people because he does not understand). Silence is also symbolised by the fact he cuts his lips twice: once to pretend he was attacked, once precisely to remain mute.
  • He afterwards learns to interpret the "language" of nature: sights, sounds, smells. This will allow him to pass the blindfolded test Cesare imposes to him later on, and hence have access to education.
  • Then a non-verbal medium, music, allows Gavino to communicate. He initially tries to play Strauss' waltz on his accordion... and another shepherd in the mountain answers with a flute. He then catches it on his radio, and thus passes the army test. Later on, he whistles Mozart's clarinet concerto after his father destroys the radio.
  • He eventually learns Italian and articulated communication. He finally is able to answer back to his father.
  • Remarkably, we partly revert to silence towards the end: the shots on the children's faces with their inner thoughts at the beginning are repeated without sound at the end; the shot when Gavino is finally leaving is totally silent. Despite all the knowledge and talk, a part of us and of our past remains mysterious.


TRADITIONS

However, despite all this progress, it is difficult to escape traditions and one's heritage: many events are repeated throughout the movie, frequently linking childhood and adulthood.
  • The movie starts and ends at school, each time with the presence of the main character both young (Gavino) and old (Ledda). Some shots are even duplicated.
  • The bell representing silence rings at different points.
  • Gavino cuts his lips twice.
  • When adult Gavino comes back to the village, he is afraid his father will strike him, like he was as a child.
  • His father then forbids him to eat and locks the food closet, as he did in the mountains.
  • In the kitchen, the father wants to strike the adult Gavino with a stick, just like the other shepherd stroke his son in the mountains.
  • After the father violently hit the young Gavino, he sings a Sardinian tune, which will be repeated during the religious procession when Gavino is adult. Additionally, during this fabulous procession, the young men carry a heavy statue that we visualise as the father: they are dominated by traditions in different forms (religion, father, master).


Remarkably, repetitions often occur from one generation to another: it feels as if the new generation will reproduce the flaws of the previous one.
  • When Gavino rebels against his father, the speech he voices to him from his bed is memorised, just like the father's speech at the beginning in school.
  • Gavino recites words from the dictionary, as his father recited multiplications.
  • Gavino does not understand the class at the army, as his father did not understand the olive purchaser's explanation.
  • Ledda says at the end: "I might abuse my new privilege, as my father did".


The resulting psychological tension between education and traditions is visually expressed by instability: the camera (apparently hand-held) is always moving, even when shots are supposed to be static. In the latter case, the movement is subtle but quite noticeable.

SIGNIFICANCE

The movie has a universal dimension. Nobody bears a name, apart from Gavino, Cesare (the true friend) and Sebastiano (the mountain legend): the father, the mother, Gavino's sisters and brothers, other children and adults. This lack of identity is highlighted by the young men during the religious procession: "We have no name, we are just the padrone's this and that". Hence it is not just Ledda's story: we see other children and adults with the same issues and desires. The shots on the children's faces at the beginning (with their inner thoughts) and at the end are striking. These thoughts are horrible, like the ones Gavino's family has near Sebastiano's deathbed, yet we understand them: it is how necessity forces people to think.

Some scenes are spectacular, for instance when the father fights with Gavino in the kitchen. It plays on different levels:
  • Abstract: close shots on hands washing, on a hand hitting the red table to have food.
  • Symbolic: father and son fight in obscurity, expressing their subconscious desire to get rid of each other; it is the dark conflict between tradition and emancipation.
  • Ironic: they fight as Mozart's beautiful music plays; afterwards, the mother sings.
  • Ambiguous: when Gavino fetches his suitcase afterwards, he first ignores his father, then puts his forehead on his leg. He still loves him despite everything. And his father first wants to caress his head, then strike it. We unexpectedly move on to the next scene, so will never know what actually happened, but it does not matter: the father's emotion stays suspended between love and hate.


The following shot is magnificently nostalgic: we silently drive away from the village, looking backwards. This subjective view echoes the scene when Gavino previously left at the back of the truck: we now leave with him, apparently forever.

In summary, "Padre Pardone" is gripping, with social, psychological and symbolic reach. Be warned, it is violent: poverty, harsh living conditions, harassment, child abuse, bestiality. However, it progressively delivers an optimistic message: through education and hard work, one can escape one's condition.

Reviewed by Turfseer 6 / 10

Slow-moving but absorbing chronicle of conflict between father-son Sardinian shepherds

'Padre Padrone' is based on noted linguist Gavino Ledda's autobiography which came out in 1975. The distinguished directors, the Taviani brothers, brought the story to the screen two years later. Ledda chronicles his childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, growing up under the yoke of his tyrannical father, a sheep herder from Sardinia.

'Padre Pardone' opens with a cameo from the real-life Gavino introducing the story directly to the audience. He brings us back to the time when he was in elementary school, when his father suddenly appeared one day and pulled him out of class for good. The father brings him to an isolated area in Sardinia with the intent of molding the very young child into a sheep herder. The child is forced to watch the property in an isolated area, Baddevrùstana, while his father is off tending to business in Siligo, a provincial town close by. Since the only means of travel is by mule, Gavino finds himself alone on inhospitable turf.

Gavino tries to make contact with other children who are forced to work for their fathers in the same way and he ends up being punished for it. The corporal punishment includes beatings with spiny tree branches which is mentioned in the autobiography. In the film it's not as clear, as we see the beatings with the branches from a distance. We do see a scene in the film where the father goes a little too far, where it appears Gavino loses consciousness for a short while (the father brings the son a cup of water to revive him).

In another memorable scene, Gavino buys a broken accordion from two passersby and pays them with two sheep. Gavino lies to his father that he was attacked by bandits who stole the sheep. He shows his father his (self-inflicted) cut on the mouth but the father doesn't buy his story and cuts his rations.

Due to the isolation of the male children as their fathers force them to work the entire time tending to the sheep, they have little or no contact with the opposite sex and develop some rather unhealthy sexual proclivities. A few scenes of bestiality are prominent during the first third of the film, including Gavino getting it on a with a mule and a group of boys masturbating with the aid of chickens they're attending to inside a coop.

Once Gavino grows up, we meet him next when he's twenty. Gavino's father somehow inherits an olive grove under dubious circumstances. After a landowner is killed by a rival, Gavino's family helps the widow with the funeral arrangements and disposing of the property. The widow, in fear for her life, decides to move away from the area, but gives Gavino's father the olive grove as compensation for their help. Gavino's father plans to cede the grove to his offspring following his death but a frost destroys all the orchards in the area, including the family's olive grove.

Gavino's father then decides to sell his herd and all this property, except for a garden. The children are shipped off as laborers but the father ships Gavino off to the Army. Before he leaves, the father teaches him some rudimentary math and reading so he can be accepted into the Army, as they will not accept someone who is completely illiterate.

While in the Army, with the help of a friend, Gavino eventually learns how to read and write. He also completes a course in electronics and learns how to assemble a radio. When his enlistment period is over, against his father's wishes, he quits the army and decides to enroll at the University of Sardinia to study linguistics. Gavino's father forces him to work long hours in the garden which interferes with his studies and eventually the two have a physical confrontation. Now much stronger than his father, Gavino wrestles him down to the ground and humiliates the old man. Gavino concludes it's best that he leave his father's home and then goes off to the university to later become a distinguished professor of linguistics.

It should be noted that the Taviani brothers are not out to condemn the brutality of the patriarchal society they're examining. While Gavino's father is sometimes brutal, in his eyes, he still has Gavino's best interests at heart. A good deal of the father's behavior toward his son is more 'tough love' than continuing acts of sadism. In many ways, he's ambivalent toward Gavino. In a most telling scene at the end, Gavino is looking for his valise under his father's bed, who's sitting right there after being humiliated after their wrestling match. As Gavino looks under the bed, the father is about to gently stroke his son's head but then clenches his fist, as if to strike him. In the denouement, we see that there were no further physical confrontations.

Not everything in 'Padre Padrone' works. Most notably, none of the other family members are developed as fleshed-out characters. The sound quality of the film is also quite poor, as if we were listening to dialogue dubbed in the studio. Questionable experimental techniques are also utilized including animal and child voice-overs and sub-titles that seem to come out of the blue.

'Padre Padrone' is comprised of a series of interesting vignettes about a world most of us are not familiar with. While the father may seem a bit one-note, the intensity between father and son is absorbing. 'Padre Padrone' can sometimes be infuriatingly slow-moving but one finds oneself waiting to find out how the relationship between the father and son is resolved. I'm not sure if this film is a true 'classic', but it's worth a look at least once, if not twice.

Reviewed by Didier-Becu 7 / 10

disturbing film with tons of poetry

Vittorio and Paolo Taviani are surely one of the most important Italian directors ever and just like all the great masters they often have their not so brilliant movies, but "Padre Pardone" certainly belongs to the best they ever made. It's all based on a true story and sometimes people tend to forget that there are places that God forget. In an agricultural area in Sardinia some folks pretend it's better to take care of the sheeps rather than scoring well at school. The young Gavino (Fabrizio Forte) goes to his school but one day he's father comes in the classroom telling him that his schooldays are over and that it is time to take up his duty as shepherd. The brothers Taviani are masters in filming the useless factors of the job as we see a young boy who absolutely has no interest in the job he got by his father, and we see some explicit scenes in where the almighty father beat his children. Schoking that's for sure and if the Gavino grows older we see his hunger to learn something (the poor boy couldn't read) as soon as he must enter the world of the army which is in total contrast with the world of the hills where sheep run. The story itself is rather hard to bear and you often shake your head by disbelief but still the Taviani-brothers are opting for a sober and poetic approach of the problem that it looks like you're viewing some touristic documentary of an area that God forgot. "Padre pardone" is certainly the kind of movie that will have both its lovers and enemies but having said that, you know that "Padre Pardone" belongs to the classic section of the Italian cinema that will never be forgotten.

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