The Eight Mountains

The Eight Mountains
The Eight Mountains
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In the book, The Eight Mountains, as in nature a glacier never forgets anything; it begins to mythologize every instant. It was written and directed by the couple – Charlotte Vandermeersch and Felix van Groeningen (Beauty Boy). It is evident that love was poured into this project from their hearts, which began after a difficult time in their relationship. After keeping themselves indoors for some time, it is no surprise that they fell in love with such an extensive story about nature.

The eighth mountain is based on Paolo Cognetti’s beautiful beloved work of literature under the same title that has been written in a very succinct manner (which got him the Jury Prize at Cannes).It traces through Pietro Guasti’s life over several decades from his age of eleven. When Pietro was brought there by his parents − Francesca and Giovanni who were played by Elena Liett and Filippo Timi respectively – he first saw Bruno Guglielmina as an adult portrayed by Alessandro Borghi thereby altering forever the course of his existence.

Bruno lives in Grana, the only village which Pietro visited so many times when they were children and thus one would understand why these two friends could seem inseparable but their friendship lasts far beyond mere convenience. In order to describe about being lonely inside this town, Bruno tells Pietro stating “They built a road to attract more people to Grana, you know what happened instead? They all went away.”

So how could he not seek out a friendship with another boy his age? The thread that binds them together starts when Giovanni commences taking them on breath-taking hikes up surrounding peaks including glaciers. Finally at some point during hiking on ice, they approach crevasse where Giovanni and Bruno are able to cross but Pietro can’t.

As Bruno and Giovanni become closer over time while on the other side rift between Pietro and his father deepens. After having no contact for fifteen years during which Bruno and Pietro were not speaking to each other, an unexpected occurrence occurs that brings them back together again. Now as adults, they all start building a cabin in the alpine where he meets with him every summer since then. It is evident that masculinity, dreams and nature vs society are still clearly thought about while walking around the paths, talking or doing something else. The organization of the storyline is weak; it gives room for the narration to shift from year to year without any form of discontinuity.

In The Eight Mountains, the central theme revolves around selecting between picturesque mountain life—dealing with animals and land—and going back home for education purposes, business or social ties in town. Since Pietro was born and brought up at a lower height, he feels it’s his responsibility to lead a normal life. For all this time he has worked in numerous unsatisfying places waiting when he could go back to his mountain retreat. Instead Bruno has no plans for anything beyond cheese making and swimming in streams.

However, they are both dwarfed by their relationship with the mountains even though each envies the other for what they feel they lack. For Pietro, his dreams seem unattainable since he firmly believes that a life on the mountain is untenable. It is only when encouraged by Bruno, who embodies this ideal, that he finds a true sense of purpose in his vocation. On the other hand, there are consequences to living within Bruno’s restricted existence. He discusses how one would say “it seems long” to convey sadness in his regional dialect and how he never knew any other way of expressing emotions saying “poor words, poor thoughts.” However, despite this realization he remains unaffected by turbulence.

The film’s 1.33:1 aspect ratio exemplifies this push and pull between each man and their beautiful but restrictive surroundings. The aspect ratio presents us with stunning scenery like none we have ever seen before but prevents wide sweeping shots such as the ones usually shown to audiences of movies set in beautiful environments. A strong and intimate sense of place emerges from these confined visuals; however it comes at the price of expanse or liberty.

Also it helps ground the movie in its 1980s (to start with) setting when most movies still used this aspect ratio. This detail from cinematographer Ruben Impens (Black Mirror, Titane) unites the movie’s visual style with its core debate. This is done subtly enough not to get in the way of action itself, but ultimately shapes our experience throughout viewing.

Whereas The Eight Mountains has a loose structure which goes hand in hand with hiking and talking for much of its time. Although those accustomed to more rigidly constructed fare may be put off by its absence of traditional plot or arc, it is also most suited for telling its story like this way . The narrative feels almost as if it were made up out of several vignettes representing every season the two friends spend together or away from each other. This format allows for moments to breathe and ensures a smooth transition between scenes.

The shape of these scenes is loose, which means a lot of silence takes place within them. Instead of speaking too fast through important parts so that the audience does not get bored, this script takes its time. This offers a blissful respite from our constant contact culture and notifications in today’s busy world. When Pietro and Bruno are hiking we get to experience the sound of nearby animals, their breathing, and the earth beneath their boots. Bruno begins to speak on their first hike together but quickly gets cut off by Pietro who says, “We can talk later but not now; when we stop…” It is such pauses that plunge us deep into their remote world.

However, there are problems with how The Eight Mountains is structured in terms of pacing as well as in capturing passage of time. The earlier stages of Pietro and Bruno’s lives, as children and adolescents pass by quickly. As a result, building up the complex relationships between Bruno, Pietro and his father feels somewhat rushed.

The film does a good job of showing how quickly these early years go by in the grand scheme of things, and how elusive youth is. But when so many scenes rely on the boys’ connection with their male figures, it could have focused on that aspect more. Especially when you consider that the filmmakers had 147 minutes to work with and a final act that slightly outstays its welcome.

Among other things, this movie is best at capturing masculinity and fatherhood in ways which do not appear forced. Unlike The Banshees of Inisherin or other guerilla like criticism, it doesn’t employ violence as means to get its points across. Instead, it simply shows us intricate relationships between fathers or sons as two men. Pietro desired freedom particularly because he was ashamed of his father’s lack of social life and dreams. When Bruno was only 13 his dad took him away from home to work; as soon as he could though, he returned to the mountain and never left.

There are also discussions about their fathers’ families later on and what they mean for subsequent generations. This is especially important given Italy’s culture of machismo but also breaking down cycles is meaningful for Pietro and Bruno who spend time doing that. Patriarchy ideals are global but they take different forms in each society due to misogyny for example whereas women generally have no rights at all while some societies recognize very few freedoms at all for women regardless of the fact that patriarchal ideals are common worldwide including Italy where Timi says his mother was “used to living among silent men,” thus shouldering the communication burden herself even if Pietro and Bruno try so hard to avoid repeating their parents’ mistakes yet they cannot fully prevent themselves from saying anything without hiding behind their words.

According to Filmmaker Magazine there were changes since Giovanni character was being played by another actor initially who backed out due to harsh conditions on set. This worked well for the film since Timi did an amazing job despite only having a few scenes. He is able to represent anger, sorrow, might and feebleness all at once and this becomes the foundation for other interpretations on masculinity in the whole movie. Without Timi’s role of a patriarch, there would have been no way of transitioning through different conversations about relating with friends, nature or oneself that ultimately return us back to the mountain where Pietro and Giovanni come from.

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