Un sentito tributo di TDC18 ad uno dei più’ grandi autori della storia del cinema. Con la partecipazione di Fabio Olmi // A heart-felt tribute by TDC18 to one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of cinema, featuring Fabio Olmi
Siamo onorati di poter celebrare il grande cinema di Ermanno Olmi con la partecipazione di suo figlio, il direttore della fotografia Fabio Olmi in chiusura del programma di proiezioni ed incontri pubblici della Edizione 2018 di Terre di Cinema – International Cinematographers Days, che si svolgerà a Catania dal 31 Agosto al 15 Settembre 2018.
La proiezione in pellicola 35mm dei film “Il Mestiere delle Armi” e “Torneranno i Prati” sara’ l’evento clou di questa nuova edizione della nostra manifestazione, e avremo l’occasione di discutere con Fabio Olmi, che ha firmato la fotografia di entrambi i film, lo splendido lavoro di luci ed ombre che li caratterizza entrambe e che trova proprio nella grana della pellicola la materia viva ed il senso del tempo di cui il grande Maestro e’ stato autore ed interprete tra i più’ grandi della storia del cinema.
LO “SPLENDORE DEL VERO” DI ERMANNO OLMI
di Maurizio Crippa, Il Foglio 7 Maggio 2018
Il suo primo premio (della Critica a Venezia, 1961), era stato per “Il posto”, storia di un ragazzo alle prese col primo lavoro, con la scoperta già intristita dell’azienda, del “posto fisso” come mito e condanna che alla fine si materializza, ma è una condanna, nella morte di un vecchio impiegato che libera la scrivania. Il tappo generazionale è sempre esistito, il rifiuto del lavoro era di là da venire, ma era già tutto dentro agli occhi dei giovani, per chi li sapesse guardare. Il film del debutto, due anni prima, racconta anche quello di un ragazzo al primo lavoro, ma nel silenzio innevato e sacro delle montagne, guardiano di una diga. “Il tempo si è fermato” doveva essere un documentario per l’Edisonvolta, la società in cui lavorava come documentarista industriale, ma divenne un lungometraggio con attori non professionisti e il suono in presa diretta. “Fino a Lunga vita alla signora!”, a “Il mestiere delle armi”, ha spesso avuto come punto focale del suo cinema l’abbrivio dell’età adulta, dove il senso di tutto si concentra, col suo disincanto. Basterebbe questo per dire quanto stretta sia la definizione di “regista contadino”, che pure gli avevano cordialmente affibbiato, per Ermanno Olmi, morto ieri a 86 anni ad Asiago, sull’altopiano che lo aveva adottato tra i boschi del suo amico Mario Rigoni Stern. Colpa dell’”Albero degli zoccoli”, Palma d’oro 1978, del suo cinema di spazi naturali e passi lenti ad altezza d’uomo. Olmi è uno dei pochi cineasti italiani che abbiano saputo raccontare il passaggio dalla campagna alla industrializzazione, da un mondo sacrale a una società pienamente secolarizzata. Ma diverso da Pasolini, lontano dalle sue trasfigurazioni rinascimentali, lui ragazzo della Bovisa operaia, ragazzo della pianura agricola di Treviglio. Non solo nei bellissimi documentari degli anni 50, cinegiornali sull’attività dell’azienda elettrica in teoria, ma in realtà già indagini umanistiche e parabole morali. Quel che riusciva di fare a Olmi, nei suoi film più belli, era tenere gli occhi in presa diretta sulle cose, le persone. Non un “punto di vista” d’autore – quando provava a inerpicarsi nella metafora, in un simbolo che non fosse un elemento naturale, un colpo di vento, gli veniva tutto più complicato. Lo sguardo, non il punto di vista, era la cifra di Olmi. Lo “splendore del vero”, come diceva Godard del cinema di Rossellini. Il nucleo di una lunga carriera di artigiano, modesto e caparbio come tutti gli artigiani, che si è sempre fatto guidare dagli occhi per cercare l’essenza, che è sempre un passo in là, o più sotto, o più dentro.
We are honoured to have the possibility of celebrating the great cinema of Ermanno Olmi with the participation of his son, cinematographer Fabio Olmi, during the screenings of the 2018 Edition of TDC – International Cinematographers Days (Catania, 31 August 15 September).
We will screen the 35mm print copies of “The Profession of Arms” and “Greenery Will Bloom Again” as the spotlight events of this new upcoming edition of TDC discussing with Fabio Olmi, who shot both films, his splendid work of lights and shadows that finds in the film stock grain the truest matter and the sense of time of which il Maestro was an unsurpassed author in the history of cinema of all times.
by John Francis Lane, The Guardian, May 2018
As he typically explored spiritual conflicts within families, the director Ermanno Olmi, who has died aged 86, was something of an outsider in his native Italy, where orthodox Catholics thought him too progressive and militant communists considered him too much of a reactionary Catholic. Only after his most acclaimed film, L’Albero degli Zoccoli (The Tree of Wooden Clogs, 1978) won him the Palme d’Or at Cannes did Olmi get recognition at home as well as abroad.
A native of Lombardy, born in Bergamo and brought up in nearby Treviglio, he used the northern region as the setting for many of his films. Olmi kept notebooks recording the tales his grandmother told him about her early life as a peasant, and they provided the material for The Tree of Wooden Clogs, which has an agricultural setting. To the criticisms that his film’s rural family was not rebellious enough, a resentful Olmi replied that they rebelled in the only way possible for them – by sending their brightest child to school. When I interviewed Olmi for the South Bank Show a few years after he made the film, he said he had aimed to express what the poet Andrea Zanzotto once described as “the whisper of the generations”.
When Olmi was three years old, his father, who worked on the railways, moved the family to Milan. At 16, Olmi got a job at the energy company Edison-Volta, where his parents had worked, and he was obliged to give up his aspirations to study architecture. Once he had discovered neorealist cinema after seeing Roberto Rossellini’s Paisà (1946), he began to make 16mm shorts that convinced his employers to entrust him with setting up a film unit, for which he made 30 documentaries on such subjects as power plants. When they commissioned him to make a longer film about a dam they were building, the result was Il Tempo Si È Fermato (Time Stood Still, 1959).
They then agreed to finance his first feature, Il Posto (The Job, 1961), in which he depicted with gentle humour the tragi-comedy of the rituals he had witnessed when country lads such as himself applied for a job with a big Milan firm. Touchingly acted by non-professionals, including Olmi’s future wife, Loredana Detto, it won an award at the Venice film festival and was screened at the London film festival.
With friends in Milan, he founded a company to support other directors’ projects, including Rossellini’s five-hour TV series L’Età del Ferro (The Iron Age, 1965), as well as his own films, such as I Fidanzati (The Engagement, 1963), which was again about a young working man and played by non-professionals.
After their marriage, Olmi and Detto settled in Milan. He won clerical favour with a documentary about Saint Anthony and received a surprising offer from the James Bond films producer Harry Saltzman, who wanted to make a feature about Pope John XXIII with the American actor Rod Steiger. Olmi convinced him to let Steiger play a “mediator” who narrates Angelo Roncalli’s life from his spiritual diary, though was not happy with the result, A Man Named John (1965), which had a limited release.
Un Certo Giorno (One Fine Day, 1968) was also about the world of work, but this time at the executive level in a successful advertising firm. Olmi and his wife moved to a home built at Asiago in the mountains above Vicenza and there he found the theme for I Recuperanti (The Scavengers, 1970). It was inspired by the stories of residents of Asiago who, in order to earn some cash during the hard times of the second world war, had dug up scrap metal in that mountainous area. Olmi photographed and edited it himself, taking his personal neorealist style to new heights.
In the 1970s he continued to make TV films for the public broadcaster RAI, and some of these were also shown in cinemas. After his success with The Tree of Clogs, he suffered a serious paralysis which kept him out of action for several years, but in 1987 he made Lunga Vita alla Signora! (Long Live the Lady!), once more with a mountain setting. It won three prizes at the Venice film festival.
The following year, he had another success at Venice, this time with the Golden Lion-winning La Leggenda del Santo Bevitore (The Legend of the Holy Drinker, 1988), his most curious film up to that point. Made and set in Paris, it was based on the semi-autobiographical novel by the Austrian-Jewish writer Joseph Roth. Olmi managed to give a lyrical quality to what was perhaps an outdated parable that needed a more sophisticated Frank Capra touch.
More in his style was Il Segreto del Bosco Vecchio (The Secret of the Old Woods, 1993), based on a 1930s novella by Dino Buzzati. Olmi brought a dazzling visual style to Buzzati’s fairytale of a living forest in which animals, insects and even the wind have voices.
Il Mestiere delle Armi (The Profession of Arms, 2001) was his most religious film, shot in Bulgaria and set during the 16th-century wars between the mercenary soldiers of the emperor Charles V and the ill-equipped papal armies. His next film was another ambitious costume spectacular, Cantando Dietro i Paraventi (Singing Behind Screens, 2003) set among the pirates of late 18th-century China.
Now into his 70s, Olmi showed no sign of slowing down. If his opera-house productions were not always appreciated, he won critical favour in 2005 for his contribution to the omnibus film Tickets. (The other episodes were directed by Ken Loach and Abbas Kiarostami.) Olmi’s was about approaching old age and nostalgia for the past.
He then declared: “I don’t want to invent stories any more but will return to making documentaries about real life.” In the audacious Centochiodi (One Hundred Nails, 2007), he suggested that only a return to belief in archaic values can save the world. The film dismayed many of his most loyal admirers, although with a second viewing it made more sense as a metaphor.
At Venice in 2008, Olmi received a lifetime achievement award and surprised everyone by asking for it to be presented to him by one of Italy’s most popular entertainers, the singer and TV showman Adriano Celentano. It was revealed that Celentano had been heard singing off screen in Olmi’s documentary Time Stood Still.
Villaggio di Cartone (The Cardboard Village, 2011), another parable for the modern world, was set entirely inside a church which is being deconsecrated, to the distress of the parish priest (Michael Lonsdale). He discovers that a group of immigrants are hiding in his church and does his best to help them, but he is opposed by a fellow clergyman (Rutger Hauer) who informs the police. It was a simple tale told with Olmi’s genuinely Christian sentiments, revisited for the ever increasing complexity of religious differences in the world.
Torneranno i Prati (The Fields Will Come Back, 2014), filmed in wintry conditions in the mountains above Asiago, recreates events of the first world war, and is set in a trench in those mountains where Italian soldiers took refuge in 1917. Vedete, Sono Uno di Voi (Look, I’m One of You, 2017) is a portrait of the liberal cardinal and archbishop of Milan Carlo Maria Martini.
Olmi is survived by Loredana, their daughter, Elisabetta, and sons, Fabio and Andrea.