In the beautiful Etruscan countryside a family strives to make a living from their bee-keeping. Filmed in a dreamlike style evoking a a largely bygone era, the story is told through the eyes of Gelsomina, the eldest daughter. She becomes enchanted with a crew in search of rural businesses to film for a reality TV show. Without the blessing of her father she enters the family bee-keeping business into what may prove a pact with the devil. “In perfect harmony with itself, the film retains a documentary feel without resorting to heavy-handed vérité aesthetics. Even after multiple viewings, The Wonders remains a sumptuous, tender portrait of an era that we might already, unknowingly, have passed beyond.” Violet Lucca, Sight & Sound. (Cert 15)
Dir: Alice Rohrwacher 107mins It/Swit/Ger 2014
Written and directed by Alice Rohrwacher (Corpo celeste, 2011; 9×10 Novanta, 2014), The Wonders chronicles the life of a family of Tuscan bee keepers. Gelsomina, played by Romanian actor Maria Alexandra Lungu in her debut role, is the eldest of four daughters and runs the family, keeping her three younger sisters out of mischief. This is very hard to do as her fiercely independent and strict father Wolfgang, played by Sam Louwyck (Bullhead, 2011; Ex Drummer, 2007), is incredibly protective of his ‘kingdom’, which he intends to pass on to his daughters. However, things start to change in the bee keeping status-quo – including the arrival of a troubled teenage boy and news that a regional TV talent show is looking for families to take part in their best-local-produce competition.
Will their lives ever be the same again?
The film was successful on the festival and awards circuit, including winning the Grand Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. It also picked up an Italian Online Movie Award for Best Italian Picture (Miglior Film Italiano) in 2015. Maria Alexandra Lungu picked up Best Actress award at the 2014 Seville European Film Festival and the Guglielmo Biraghi Award (ie, a Special Mention) from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists in that year too.
Acknowledgements: IMDb.com SFGate.com
“The film comes and goes without commotion but its magic settles on you as softly and as steadily as dust” Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
Gelsomina – Maria Alexandra Lungu
Wolfgang – Sam Louwyck
Cocò – Sabine Timoteo
Marinella – Agnese Graziani
Milly Catena – Monica Bellucci
Director – Alice Rohrwacher
Producers – Karl Baumgartner, Carlo Cresto-Dina, Tiziana Soudani, Michael Weber
Screenplay – Alice Rohrwacher
Cinematography – Helene Louvart
Another great Italian film in our programme. It worked well as an alternative family drama, with strong performances from the two young sisters. Whilst it was maybe a bit too open-ended, the film was a rewarding and immersive experience
Amazing! A dumb camel proved [?] to be the star! More please!
A touch of Bunuel – but I didn’t get the camel
A brilliant and unusual film but the wife was played down and the credits seemed totally out of place
An interesting and complex film, which presented a whole series of issues and refused to allow us to stand back and feel comfortably superior. I think the main technique was filming fairly close in for much of the time
A good depiction of mostly nice people sinking into a chaotic lifestyle – not surprising, with so little purpose
A rather curious film, with a dysfunctional dad, an impressive Gelsomina, remarkable shots of beer and a disjointed plot. And now you see Martin, now you don’t!
Wonderful [illegible] of child wisdom
Started off OK – but then it became very strange ….
Tried too hard and much of it didn’t make sense
A strangely bee-witching film that came a bit unstuck at times