Gavino is a poor Shepard boy who lives under the tyranny of
his father. Forced to come out of school, at an early age,
only national service allows him to escape his past and eventually
gain an education...
Padre Padrone (1977), based on the autobiographical book
by Gavino Ledda, was directed by the Taviani brothers. The
film won five awards including a Golden Palm ant the 1977
Cannes film festival and was nominated for a BAFTA for Marconi's
portrayal of Gavino. Originally made for television the film
was so well received that it got a cinema release.
is quite a dour film and won't be to everybody's taste. The
first hour of the film has little in the was of dialogue as
it charts Gavino's first years stuck on a mountain, pretty
much, by himself. This means that the portion dealing with
national service and his eventual transition into being a
linguistics professor seems a little rushed. You don't get
a sense of what the child had to overcome to achieve this.
It is sometimes difficult to know what the message of the
film should be. There is an obvious dislike of the peasant
way of like with its associated hardships and lack of intellectual
stimulation, however Gavino's fathers' behaviour is portrayed
as fairly reasonable, given the circumstances he finds himself
in. Life as a peasant farmer is harsh and often leaves no
room for the type of soft romanticism which the middle classes
often indulge in when contemplating a life in the country.
Even when he is freed from the constraints of his family Gavino
doesn't seem to be any happier.
The unquestionable acting laurels should be shared between
Omero Antonutti, who plays the father and Saverio Marconi
who plays the young, oppressed and alienated Gavino.
The film is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio. Sound
is Italian with optional subtitles. The disc comes with a
seventy-eight minute interview with the brothers discussing
their approach to film as well as their influences. On the
surface this sounds like a good thing unless you have previously
in which case a sense of déja vu will set in as it's the same
extra. The picture isn't great, soft and grainy, with noticeable
artefacts, at one point you can even see a hair caught in
the lower left hand corner of the picture.
In the end it is an interesting slice of brutal life, Ledda
even appears in the film as himself at the beginning and end
of the film. It is arguably not one of the Tavini brothers'
best films, certainly not their most accessible, but should
be of interest to collectors of either the Tavini brothers
or Italian neo-realism.