Film - Feature | July 5 | 6:30 p.m. | Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
In the mountain village of Gagliano, in the impoverished Lucania region of south-central Italy, a proverb reflects the unchanging nature of the inhabitants isolation: even Christ stopped at Eboli, the town at the bottom of the bare and craggy hill. In 1935 Carlo Levi, the leftist writer, physician, and painter, was banished by the Fascist government to three years exile in Gagliano. His experiences were recorded in his masterful postwar novel Christ Stopped at Eboli. In Rosis stunning film, Gian Maria Volonté portrays Levi, but he shares the role of protagonist with the camera as he walks the steep and stony streets of the village and, very slowly, comes to understand the combination of superstition and resignation by which the peasantry has survived over generations. In their misery and in the rapacious way in which the petit bourgeoisie exploit it to save their souls, Levi locates the roots of an indigenous fascism playing on atavistic prejudices and fears. Where Levi remained an outsider struggling with his romanticism about the impoverished South, Rosis understanding as a filmmaker is profoundly one of solidarity.