Published September 13th, 2023
International film in Orinda: 'The Eight Mountains' a touching fresco of two interwoven lives
By Sophie Braccini
Photo provided
Between two boys, growing into maturity and adulthood, the long path of their intertwined destinies unfolds in "The Eight Mountains," a lyric Italian movie opening in Orinda on Sept. 15.
The title of the movie comes from a Hindu metaphor: Inside a circle that represents the world are eight mountains and seas; at the center of the circle is the highest mountain. Who is the person who sees most? The one who travels the eight mountains, or the one that takes the time to climb to the summit of the central one? This is the existential question at the heart of the movie co-directed by Felix Van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch, adapted from the Italian best selling novel by Paolo Cognetti.
In a magnificent setting in the heart of the Italian Alps, as well as other places around the world, "The Eight Mountains" tells the story of two friends, almost brothers, and their quest for meaning and belonging. This long saga, over two hours, contrasts the very different life choices made by the two young men. One stays true to his roots, what he feels is his true nature, going up an arduous path that makes him one with the mountains he loves. The other one is the wanderer, lost sometimes, but always seeking. At the center of the friendship that was born in childhood and will almost never falter, is the figure of a father, and what he wanted to transmit to the two boys.
Along the way, many topics are touched upon. The difficulty to make a living as a small mountain farmer, the fantasies people have about returning to nature, the commonality between people around the world that live precarious traditional lifestyles. The movie does not present the return to nature as the ideal choice to find authenticity again. It is not that simple and the choices of following in one's parents' footsteps or breaking away from it are shown in all their complexity, as well as their uncertainties as far as consequences.
Luca Marinelli as Pietro and Alessandro Borghi as Bruno have been cast perfectly. The two actors offer nuanced performances portraying the evolution of their characters, making them infinitely likeable.
The co-directors are from Belgium, but they decided to film in Italian in the Aosta Valley (in the Italian Alps) that had inspired Paolo Cognetti when he wrote his novel. They learned Italian and moved there ahead of filming. During an interview given to Franceinfo before the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, the directors indicated that they had chosen a square visual format to be able to better portray the mountains' height. They also explained their choice of creating a very linear film to reinforce the feeling that there is no going back in life.
This beautiful and touching fresco will open at the Orinda Theatre on Sept. 15 for at least one week. "The Eight Mountains" won several international prestigious awards including the Jury's Prize at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. It is brought to Lamorinda by the local nonprofit, the International Film Showcase. Tickets at

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Copyright Lamorinda Weekly, Moraga CA