Perth Theatre Perth
Class-divide fable charting the friendship between small-town peasant and the local aristocrat.
Alice Rohrwacher's enigmatic drama is a moving satire about the unquestioning toil of peasants' lives.
Tickets & Information
Cert 12A; 2018; 128 min; Italian
£6; seniors/unwaged/students £5
(buy all 7 films at the same time and save 15%)
More About the Film
“Happy as Lazzaro” (Lazzaro felice) is a 2018 Italian drama produced by Martin Scorsese and directed by Alice Rohrwacher (director of “The Wonders”, enjoyed by PFS in Spring 2016). The film was inspired by a real-life event, but it is set in a fictional crumbling rural village called Inviolata that has been isolated since the 1970s.
The tale is about workers on a tobacco farm that belongs to the notorious Alfonsina de Luna (Queen of Cigarettes played by Nicoletta Braschi). One such worker is young Lazzaro (Adriano Tardiolo), who dutifully follows every command with a heartbreakingly sweet-natured smile.
Because of this, poor Lazzaro is regarded as a bit of a simpleton and he is often bullied and teased. Alfonsina’s son, Tancredi (Luka Chikovani), is disillusioned with the regime of mezzadria (sharecropping), where the farm workers are effectively unpaid because they are trapped in a vicious circle of constant debt to the estate for food and rent. Tancredi decides to protest, and to defy his mother by setting off with Lazzaro into the wilderness and faking his own kidnapping.
The police are called to search for the missing Tancredi, but their visit exposes the regime. Sharecropping became illegal in the 1980s, the workers should be earning proper wages, and the village children should be being educated. As a result, the estate is shut down, the workers are evacuated, and Alfonsina is arrested.
This magical reality fable of a film uses visual devices to show old-fashioned feudalism confronting modern capitalism. Lush tobacco leaves and crumbling frescoes clash with the cheap synthetic glint of crisp packets and astro turf. Inviolata is filmed in dusty, sun-scorched ochres that morph into a harsh cityscape of steely greys and electric light.
The story also infuses Lazzaro with an otherworldly vacancy, which reminds of Chance, the simple-minded character played by Peter Sellers in “Being There”, or Tom Hanks in “Forrest Gump”. In this way, the proper desire for progress and social improvement is shown to be covering up a clash with worryingly similar, but negative entrenched ideologies.
“Happy as Lazzaro” won 14 awards in the 2018/19 season. These include Best Screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival, Best Director at the International Cinephile Society Award, also at Cannes, Best Feature at the Chicago International Film Festival, and Special Jury prize and Best Special Feature Length Film at the Catalonian International Film Festival. The film was also voted into the Top Five Foreign Language Films by the National Board of Review.
About Perth Film Society
Perth Film Society is a Perthshire based cinema group that gives film fans the chance to see little-known and cult movies on the big screen. This season, the team behind the has hand-picked some international gems for its new season and has added a couple of additions to its usual programme of 7 films.
These include Kes, to coincide with the Perth Theatre production, and a retrospective of "Thelma and Louise" in conjunction with Perth and Kinross Violence Against Women Partnership. Look out for more details coming soon.