Following his stimulating docu “Primo Levi’s Journey,” helmer Davide Ferrario conceives another thought-provoking travelogue with “Piazza Garibaldi.” Coinciding with Italian unification’s 150th anniversary, the docu retraces Giuseppe Garibaldi’s famed Red Shirts, known as “the Thousand,” as they moved south with the aim of bringing the half-formed nation together. Ferrario uses the exercise to ruminate on current Italian malaise, though often what he sees as specifically Italian can be applied globally. Italo showcases should benefit from the discussion.
“Piazza Garibaldi” is the equivalent of Main Street, a ubiquitous address in every town. When Garibaldi led his men out of Bergamo in 1860, they faced lukewarm support from the Piedmontese king and much larger armies in the south, but their idealism energized them and the country. Comparisons with then and now, when apathy and division seem insurmountable, offer the chance to reflect on issues such as the north-south divide and Italy’s seemingly irreversible population decline. Though he tries to end on an up-note, Ferrario’s conclusion that Italians lack a sense of the communal good, preferring representation to reality, is sobering and sadly convincing. Visuals are handsomely crisp, and Verdi’s music is well-chosen.