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At the age of six, Gavino (Fabrizio Forte) is pulled out of school by his father (Omero Antonutti), to work as the impoverished family's shepherd in the inhospitable mountains of Sardinia - and suffer frequent beatings by his father. The following years are spent in hardship and loneliness, but Gavino's bleak existence is tempered when at the age of 20 (Saverio Marconi) he discovers the accordion. When after a run of bad luck for family finances his father sends him to the army, Gavino sets out on the way to liberation by seeking out the education he was denied as a child, eventually - with considerable difficulty and no help from his father - earning a university degree in linguistics.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Multi award winning Padre Padrone (including the Palm d'Or at Cannes) is ultimately a sad little story based on Gavino Ledda's memoirs of his growing up in Sardinia under the harsh regime of his domineering father. The poor farming family needed the little boy as a shepherd more than as a student, denying him an education. The Taviani brothers have crafted the first half of the film exceptionally well, infusing the film with a darker side to the bucolic charm of craggy Sardinian hills and balancing the father's harsh methods with a tough love kind of sensibility.

Omero Antonutti's performance as the father is pitch perfect, a mix of peasant hard headedness and protective patriarch. He manages to elicit competing reactions as he wrestles with his responsibilities in the traditional ways, unable to see past the past, as it were. Young Fabrizio Forte is excellent as the 6 year old Gavino, with much more to work with than his older counterpart Saverio Marconi (aptly named, considering Gavino learns radio engineering in the army!). But then the young man Gavino has been diabled by his youth so that he is not only illiterate but almost mute. The rest of the cast gets slight attention as the film focuses on Gavino's journey.

There are some strikingly beautiful images, all in context, as we touch themes of father-son conflict and coming of age drama. In this latter theme, the film works best as it shows the painful tearing away from the grip of family and social tradition by a young man who had no help to do so.

Bookended by the real life Gavino, Padre Padrone launched the Tavianis on the international stage (er, screen) and they went on to make the even more acclaimed Night of the Shooting Stars (also starring Omero Antonutti) five years later.

Published January 29, 2009

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(Italy, 1977)

CAST: Omero Antonutti, Saverio Marconi, Marcella Michelangeli, Fabrizio Forte, Marina Cenna, Stanko Molnar, Nanni Moretti

PRODUCER: Giuliani G. De Negri

DIRECTOR: Paolo & Vittoria Taviani

SCRIPT: Paolo & Vittoria Taviani (autobiography by Gavino Ledda)


EDITOR: Roberto Perpignani

MUSIC: Egisto Macchi


RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes

PRESENTATION: 1.33:1; DD 2.0

SPECIAL FEATURES: Interview with the Taviani brothers (84 mins); trailers [English subtitles]


DVD RELEASE: January 10, 2009

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