Directed by Franco Piavoli. (1981)
REVIEWED By Pamela Bruce, Fri., April 30, 1993
Winner of numerous awards, including the Nastro D'Argento (Italy's equivalent to the Academy Awards) and the United Nations Award for Film and Television, this 1981 film marks the full-length feature debut of Italian painter Piavoli, whose work has included shorts about nature and human behavior. Thus, Blue Planet is sort of a cumulative example of Piavoli's previous efforts in that it deals with these very same subjects, yet it is almost like nothing that has ever been produced before. There is no dialogue, nor a musical soundtrack. Only images which literally cover a time span of a day and a half, yet thematically note the passing of time in different dimensions, such as biological evolution, the seasons of the year, and day-to-day human activity. The film begins by capturing the simplicity of winter's thaw into spring via camerawork that is, at times, hypnotically reminiscent of the avant-garde formalism of certain French and Russian silent films of the Twenties and Thirties. This visual feast then segues into everyday farm life in the Italian countryside where a multi-generational family goes about its daily routine of harvesting the land and interacting among themselves. Unfortunately, Piavoli's film is not for everyone. It can be tedious at times, making its 90-minute duration seem longer than it really is, and the glorious camerawork which initially captures nature at its finest seems to dissolve into stationary blandness once the farm family comes into the picture. But, if anything, Blue Planet should leave a lingering desire to spend an afternoon appreciating the splendors of nature, and a lifetime need of preserving and protecting it.