Skip to main content

LIGABUE

Italy, 1978 (MIFF 1979)

Director: Salvatore Nocita

Ligabue is the re-created biography of Italy's most famous primitive painter. The film is based on a book about the artist by the famous neo-realist scriptwriter, Zavattini.

The film starts with Ligabue's arrival in central Italy after twenty years in Switzerland, his birthplace, where his Italian father had gone in search of work. He speaks a mixture of Italian and German, which makes it difficult for him to be understood by the locals.

Wandering from job to job, he finally takes up residence in a hut on the banks of the Po, in a natural world, where he lives almost like a savage. The townspeople call him 'il tedesco' — the German — and shun him as a wild man. A local sculptor discovers his talent after seeing the animal poster he has painted for a travelling circus, and his scribblings on the town walls. Ligabue reluctantly accepts assistance from this man — his first ever canvas to work on.

Despite his increasing success as a painter, Ligabue sells his work for bowls of soup and makes meagre exchanges with paintings that years later, will be valued at millions of lire. He remains essentially a primitive and lonely person hovering between sanity and insanity, but who miraculously manages to translate his inner torments onto canvas.

See also...

Baby Story

A humorous account of a child's growth in the womb. ... More »

THE CLOWNS

Clowns, freaks, circuses have been consistently recurring facets of Fellini films from La Strada through 8 1/2 to Satyricon. Now Fellini has given bent to his creative sympathies and made The Clowns ... More »

PRIMO LEVI'S JOURNEY

“[A] gently moving vision of people and lands struggling to reconcile the past with an uncertain present.” - Variety Primo Levi's horrific account of surviving Auschwitz, If This is a Man, is ... More »

Sandwich

A live-action film by Bozetto, "Sandwich" is a very funny look at a man on a bicycle outing, who constructs a monumental sandwich for his lunch, only to have it lurch out of his hands and lead him on ... More »

THE CONFORMIST

Self-preservation in the face of, and conformity to the dictates and ideologies of political power have made cowards of countless numbers of solid citizens. ... Just such a coward is Marcello who has ... More »

I PREFER THE SOUND OF THE SEA

Two of Mimmo Calopresti's feature films have been selected for competition at Cannes. Not bad for a documentary filmmaker who decided to make the switch to drama just five years ago. Calopresli's ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director