Off Topic: Il Buco is a transporting film about a really big hole

Last week I watched Il Buco, or The Hole, the latest film from the Italian director Michelangelo Frammartino. It’s mesmerising. With very little in the way of dialogue, Frammartino tells the story of a 1960s spelunking expedition that explored one of the deepest cave systems in the world.

At first glance Il Buco seems filled with slightly trite opposites. The expedition comes from the urban north of Italy to the bucolic south, and one scene shows a cluster of kids gathered around a TV set that’s broadcasting a news piece about the tallest building in the country, which is being constructed while the spelunkers are heading off in the opposite direction.

But all of this is a distraction, I think. Or rather, it felt like Frammartino was throwing things in to the movie to allow you to ruminate and begin the process of looking for meanings. The bulk of the film is concerned with a more engaging case of opposites: an elderly shepherd spending his last days with his flock, while that hole slowly reveals its depths.

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