L'albero degli zoccoli (“The clogs tree”) is a 1978 movie directed by Ermanno Olmi, winner of the Golden Palm at the 31st edition of Cannes Film Festival. The movie was shot between February and March 1977, entirely in the dialect of the province of Bergamo, where the action takes place (the main set was the western lowland between Martinengo, Palosco, Cividate al Piano, Mornico al Serio and Cortenuova, while Treviglio turned into Milan for a single scene, representing the arrival of the peasant bride and groom in the city). The actors later dubbed it in Italian for the national distribution. L'albero degli zoccoli offers us a portrait of the peasants’ life between autumn 1897 and spring 1898, their earth-bound cycles in strict relation with the seasons, tradition, faith, simple but solid values (the 'galantòm', dialect for “gentlemen”, is a central concept in the story). The natural landscape is not merely a background for the action but a prominent protagonist. The humble country environment unveils all its secret beauty, thanks to the director’s lyrical vision. We will not tell you the story here, to let you appreciate the movie in all its poetry.
The critics say:"(...) This is the masterpiece of the only Italian director that had the bravery to represent the agricultural worker’s condition not as a social theory, but as the story of a relationship between human beings. It is also the only movie where the actors (usually dubbed or playing a fixed script) are fully protagonists in first person. Many of us (anthropologically all) have a peasantry descent: following Olmi in this journey to the other side, we can retrace a remembrance of our forefathers ". (Tullio Kezich from "La Repubblica")"(...) L'Albero degli zoccoli is first of all a fairytale, thus requires an interpreted reading that keeps track of all the symbolic elements it contains, although merged, as in all fairytales, in everyday’s reality and becoming one with it. In this perspective, Olmi’s peasants, their little stories and the major History that unfolds around them, acquire a poetic dimension with highlights of extraordinary interest and suggestion." (Gianni Rondolino, "Catalogo Bolaffi del Cinema Italiano", 6, 1979)