Made almost entirely on location in the backwoods of Sardinia (except for a few scenes in Pisa), this little low-budget film for TV – wisely sponsored by RAI-2 – is a probe of unusual dimension into the deformation of young Sardinians compelled by local economics and the mystics of geneology to sacrifice childhood and adolescence as sheep herders in the high country. The film is based freely on the autobiographical expose by Gavino Ledda.
Around the initiation of a seven-year-old boy into the lonely life of sheep herder until his triumphant rift at the age of 20 with a remarkably overbearing father-patriarch (Omero Antonutti), the Taviani brothers have for the most part succeeded in adapting a miniature epic.
When Saverio Marioni takes over from moppet Fabrizio Forte to bring the boy herder into focus as an adolescent and young man, the film blurs slightly without losing its dimension – highlighted by a first brush with strangers and an accordion, the revolt of the community’s young people who emigrate in a body to Germany.
In a long final part, accenting the boy’s iron will to learn right up to a high school diploma, the final showdown between patriarch and rebel son is perhaps a more consequent narrative.