Director: Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub Run Time: 66 min. Release Year: 1999 Language: Italian
Starring: Angela Durantini, Angela Nugara, Carmelo Maddio, Gianni Buscarino, Vittorio Vigneri
Something as simple as a herring roasting on a hearth, or a meal of bread, wine and winter melon, takes on the humble aura of a Caravaggio painting in this masterful film from legendary filmmakers Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet. Sicilia! is a tragicomedy involving an orange peddler, an Italian recently returned from America, two “stinky” police officers, a guilt-stricken landowner, a traveling knife sharpener and, perhaps most unforgettably, an indomitable peasant mother who reminisces about meals of snails and wild chicory, her husband’s philandering and cowardice, and her own father’s belief in an honest day’s labor, socialism, and St. Joseph.
“The greatest film about landscapes, whereupon every kind of reconciliation is brought forth – class reconciliation, generational reconciliation, cultural reconciliation, familial reconciliation, historical reconciliation. And of course it is on a train where the first reconciliation happens – being a train its only job is to cross landscapes. One second we see the principles of the wealthy, then we see the other classes mock them. But then one class sits down with another, and we discover the humanity of both. One senses that perhaps a great portion of this film builds entirely off of the end of the earlier Class Relations, where there is suddenly hope on a train – people come together and then we meditate with the Straubs on the restorative energy of landscape itself. And the 360’s across landscapes provoke the simple sensations of not knowing what is going to enter the frame at a given moment. Then mother and son in a room – time deceives us. And so one must reconcile with time itself. It’s maybe not the most interesting of Huillet & Straub’s films, probably one of the least political since Bach…but it’s possibly their most beautiful.” – Neil Bahadur, letterboxd