L' albero degli zoccoli (1978)

Ermanno Olmi’s Palme d’or-winner about the hardships faced by peasants in late 19th-century Lombardy is a masterpiece of neorealism.
The Tree of Wooden Clogs chronicles a year in the everyday struggles of several families living on the farmstead of an aloof, exploitative landlord. To make ends meet, the farmers feel the need to compete against each other even as they partake together in working the cornfields, slaughtering animals, sharing stories, marking births and weddings, and attending mass. Making superb use of its non-professional cast, Luigi Olmi’s vast, meticulously detailed fresco is a magisterial, unusually convincing recreation of a feudal rural world barely touched by modernity or political progress, where the only succour derives from human charity or the Church. Deeply engrossing, compassionate and quietly moving.
1978 Italy
Directed by
Ermanno Olmi
Produced by
Giulio Mandelli
Written by
Ermanno Olmi
Luigi Ornaghi, Francesca Moriggi, Omar Brignoli
Running time
186 minutes