Franco Piavoli – Voci nel Tempo AKA Voices Through Time (1996)
An ode to the cycles of life charts the passages of infancy, youth, maturity and old age against the seasons of the year in the bucolic Lombardy village of Castellaro.
The creak of an aged wooden door as it is opened, tentatively at first, over cold flagstones worn smooth by centuries of shuffling shoes. Outside, the first notes of Spring: keen birdsong, bright sunshine and the freshness of one season giving way to the next. Inside, stillness and silence in which the smallest scrape is amplified thousandfold. An absence of light and noise and life, but a closeness to something higher, something sublime. Franco Piavoli’s Voci nel Tempo documents the sublimity of village life and its changing seasons, from the awed expression of several young boys standing in the doorway of an ancient church to the sheepish grins of their teenage brothers, circling girls for the first time in a bustling town square. Piavoli’s is a cinema wholly unreliant upon the conventions of narrative; it has the lyrical breadth of a great poem, and unfolds as such, comprised of stanzas that reflect the periods of life that we all must go through, from the Spring of youthful curiosity to the Winter of elderly regret. The film flows just as life flows, and the lives of those figures it captures are reflected in the seasonal changes we witness. And Piavoli approaches it all with the eye of an entomologist, studying the species native to this small village in the hills of Mantova, Italy, as though an extra-terrestrial being might. One that is fascinated with the finer details, such as the leaves upon a tree or the wrinkles upon a face.