Monte: A personal challenge of titanic proportions
by Camillo De Marco
- Presented out of competition at Venice in 2016, the film by Iranian filmmaker Amir Naderi hits Italian screens with ASAP
Monte [+see also:
film profile] by Amir Naderi, which was presented out of competition at the Venice Film Festival and finally hits Italian theatres today with the ASAP Cinema Network, is an allegorical film in its purest form, in the sense that it’s a story that should be interpreted beyond its apparent meaning. The story, centering around Agostino (Andrea Sartoretti), his wife Nina (Claudia Potenza) and their son Giovanni (Zaccaria Zanghellini) and set in unspecified medieval times, focuses on the symbolic meaning of the mountain, an archetype that spans philosophy, psychoanalysis and religion.
Iranian filmmaker Naderi, a New Yorker by adoption, has given cinema tenacious characters in extreme situations, like the boy who wants to make his dreams come true in the post-conflict Iran of The Runner (1985), the three women who must take control of their destiny in A, B, C... Manhattan (1997), the self-sacrificing hero of Cut (2011), and the young labourer facing the economic crisis in the outstanding 99 Homes (2014, which Naderi wrote the screenplay for). In Monte, Agostino (like Saint Augustine of Hippo, one of Christianity’s greatest thinkers) is a poor inhabitant of a village in the valleys of Friuli, which everyone is abandoning due to the hostile environment. Agostino has just lost a daughter, but he refuses to give up: he goes down to the village with the few items he has to sell, but no one wants to buy his wares. In one key scene, we see a man who’s losing everything abandon his religious beliefs. His challenge of the mountain that blocks out the sun and rips life away from his house and his family is a necessary choice. As well as a crazy one. Agostino starts titanically pounding the huge mountain, dark and threatening, in which sacred verticality blends with the heaviness of the thing, a place where heaven meets earth, the home of the gods. But if the Pueblo Indians interviewed by Carl Gustav Jung are right when they say that “all life comes from the mountains”, then Agostino is not challenging God, but rather himself, in an angry surrender of self-awareness.
Amir Naderi uses no dialogue and reduces the narration to a minimum to focus on the visual strength of the film in its symbolism, giving the sound design (which he was responsible for along with the screenplay and the editing) a preponderant role, through the deep and incessant trumpeting coming from the bowels of the mountain.
Monte, the first film made in Italy by the Iranian director, benefits from Roberto Cimatti as director of photography. It is an Italian majority production (Citrullo International, Zivago Media) jointly owned by the United States (Cineric), and co-produced with France (Ciné-sud Promotion) and KNM, in partnership with Rai Cinema, with the support of the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism – DG Cinema, the IDM Alto Adige Film Commission and the Friuli Venezia Giulia Film Commission.
(Translated from Italian)
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