Until fairly recently, up to the Second World War or even later, Europe was in the firm grip of Christianity. Many wars were thought over it and countless lives lost, whether between different sects or against ‘heathens’ in the Crusades. However, it was probably the smaller things, the constant fear for your mortal soul and eternal damnation, which were the most pernicious aspects of a very patriarchal variety of religious control. One woman risks everything in Small Body.
After the stillbirth of her first child, Agata (Celeste Cescutti) is distraught. The thought of her girl living in limbo forever and never finding peace is simply too much to bear. When she hears rumours of a sanctuary which can perform a miracle that will allow her to save her baby’s soul, Agata sets out alone and heads north. Soon encountering Lynx (Ondina Quadri), who offers to take her there for a price. There are many dangers along the way.
Small Body is a beautiful film, full of life and wonder. The perils of the period, especially for a young woman travelling alone, are conjured up in Laura Samani’s stunning feature debut. While the times might have changed, many of the challenges certainly haven’t. The atmosphere of the era is skilfully evoked with divine cinematography and there’s something almost mystical, even magical, about the world we’re taken to. Small Body is a minor masterpiece of modern filmmaking.
Small Body is out in UK cinemas on 8 April.