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La leggenda del santo bevitore

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Directed by Ermanno Olmi, La Leggenda del Santo Bevitore, or The Legend of the Holy Drinker, is a 1988 Italian film starring Rutger Hauer, Anthony Quayle, and Sandrine Dumas. The film nuances the nature of faith and redemption by nesting its narrative within unexpected contexts and characters, demonstrating a divergent perspective on the experience of grace and deliverance.

Set amidst the stunning cityscape of Paris, the story revolves around the protagonist, Andreas Kartak (Rutger Hauer), a down-on-his-luck alcoholic and vagabond who dwells under the bridges of the Seine. Hauer, known for his roles in Blade Runner and The Hitcher, strikes an impressive balance by embodying a disheveled vagrant while still retaining an inherent dignity. His straggly beard and ragged clothes do nothing to detract from the depth of character he brings to his role as a man bruised by life's harsh realities, yet still carrying a flicker of hope.

One day, Andreas's life takes a dramatic turn when he encounters a mysterious stranger, played by Anthony Quayle. This enigmatic gentleman offers him a significant sum of money, accompanied by an unusual request: when he is able to, Andreas is to repay the sum to the Church of Saint Therese. Andreas accepts the offer with the single-minded aim of putting these funds towards alcohol. But as the narrative unfolds, the true essence of this strange pact surfaces, propelling the film into a compelling exploration of destiny and ethics.

Sandrine Dumas, who features prominently as the woman with whom Andreas shares a complicated relationship, puts forth a performance that beautifully complements Hauer's depiction of Andreas. Her portrayal of subtle emotions, coupled with Hauer's profound character study, combines to present a captivating dichotomy of the human condition – a struggle between surrendering to weaknesses and striving for change.

"Cinema of quality" is a term often used to describe the oeuvre of Olmi, and La Leggenda del Santo Bevitore is no exception. It is a thought-provoking, philosophical film that goes beyond the superficial layer of refined aesthetics to offer an introspective look at personal redemption. Olmi masterfully blends the mundanity of everyday life with some deeply existential themes, creating a cinematic work that is paradoxically enigmatic and yet genuine.

The film engrosses viewers with its slow-paced narrative rhythm and visually appealing cinematography. The narrative deftly employs supernatural elements to underscore the surreal nature of Andreas's experience while also emphasizing the influence of his actions on those around him. The nonlinear storyline, however, does not pose a distraction; instead, it invites viewers to partake in the unraveling mystery of Andreas's enigmatic journey towards redemption.

The film, with its rich color palette and somber mood, is also visually stunning. Set predominantly in nighttime Paris, the city's dazzling lights, shadowy alleyways, and foggy riverbanks are beautifully captured, enhancing the narrative's atmospheric charm. Haunting and evocative, the film's soundtrack further intensifies the sense of melancholy and alienation that permeates Andreas's world.

La Leggenda del Santo Bevitore serves as a sincere discourse on redemption, hope, and the indomitable human spirit in the face of adversity. It investigates the themes of chance, destiny, and debtedness in a manner that is both realistic and whimsical.

This movie stands as a delicate balance of melancholy and hope, prophetic and grounded. It presents mystic threads woven into its humane, in-depth exploration, making it an enchanting experience for viewers. The film's critical acclaim was reflected in its sweep of honors at the 1988 Venice Film Festival, securing the prestigious Golden Lion award.

It is a film that is both uncompromising in its depiction of the harsh realities of life and audacious in its exploration of existential themes, making it a must-watch for ardent cinephiles. This deeply lyrical and poignant film beautifully encapsulates the essence of its title, The Legend of the Holy Drinker.

La leggenda del santo bevitore is a Drama movie released in 1988. It has a runtime of 127 mins. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.2..

Ermanno Olmi
Rutger Hauer, Anthony Quayle, Dominique Pinon
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