A stunning portrait of life in the trenches during the Great War, Ermanno Olmi’s Torneranno i prati is a handsome tribute to loneliness and fear.
All Quiet On The Western Frontby Mark Wilshin
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
Loosely based on Federico De Roberto’s Fear and dedicated to his father who told him stories of the Great War, Ermanno Olmi’s Torneranno I Prati is a touching slice of life in the First World War trenches on the Italian front. Taking place largely at night in a monochrome world of black trenches and white snow, Olmi’s film appears to be filmed in black and white, but slowly glimmers of colour break through – as trees burst into flames and shells explode. Still, it’s a world drained of colour and life, the only moment of joy the postman’s singing, shared with the German soldiers during a snowbound ceasefire. Plagued by disease, bombs, loneliness and despair, characters shine briefly and then fade – some deployed elsewhere, others killed. While others take a moment to reveal their innermost feelings direct to camera, their melancholy at being isolated so far from their families also reminiscent of a contemporary crisis that has seen Italians leave their motherland in droves to make a living abroad. A stunning, honest and tender portrait of life in the trenches of the Great War, Greenery Will Bloom Again is a dark, bleak moment frozen in time, but one that with the ineluctable perseverance of time can only get better.
Torneranno i prati is now showing at the 65th Berlin Film Festival