Blu-Ray Review: The Tree of Wooden Clogs

The golden age of Italian cinema coincided with the emergence of neorealism within the country’s film-making. In a movement characterised by the use of non-professional actors, filming on location and focussing on the poor, the Italians were king. In 1978, Ermanno Olmi took inspiration from this movement, along with an emphasis on studying family which was later personified in Heimat, to create the seminal The Tree of Wooden Clogs.

Set just before the turn of the 19th century in the Bergamo region of Italy, four peasant families eke out a meagre existence on their farms. Beholden to the landowner, their simple lives are dictated by the seasons and the everyday comings and goings of family life. As the sounds of communist revolution rumble in the big cities and larger towns, it generally passes them by. However, their futures are tenuous, and one wrong move can lead them to disaster.

The Tree of Wooden Clogs is as much a historical essay as it is a feature film. Olmi follows the families through a cycle of births, deaths and marriages and the normal trials and tribulations of rural life. Small moments of social progress, such as one of the family’s sons being allowed to go to school, have huge echoes within the community. The Tree of Wooden Clogs is a period drama which takes its time to paint the picture of rural life in Northern Italy.

Special Edition Contents:

• Brand-new 4K restoration by The Film Foundation
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition presentations
• Original Bergamasque and Italian mono soundtracks (uncompressed LPCM on the Blu-ray)
• Optional English subtitles
• Introduction by director Ermanno Olmi
• Two interviews with Olmi from the 1978 Cannes Film Festival, recorded either side of his Palme d’Or win
• Interview with Olmi from Italian film programme Appuntamenti con il cinema
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by David Jenkins

The Tree of Wooden Clogs is released on Dual Format (DVD & Blu-ray) by Arrow Academy on Monday 28 August.

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