Produced by Raitelevisione Italiana, this film set in Sicily and directed by brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, consists of four stories based on Luigi Pirandello's "Le Novelle per un Anno", and has some spectacular cinematography by Giuseppe Lanci and a gorgeous score by Nicola Piovani.
The first two stories in particular, take place in a parched, rocky setting, that has a strange beauty despite the dust and the cruelty of the life; life is harsh, and so is the way some of the characters treat each other. A warning to those of you, who like me are sensitive about the abuse of animals, the initial scene of the film with a crow is a little unpleasant.
The stories are: "L'Altro Figlio" (The Other Son), about a mother with two sons in America, and one that she has at home, but has rejected.
"Mal di Luna" (Moon Sickness), about a man who goes wild and howls when the moon is full, and his new wife.
"La Giara" (The Jar), which is a comedic story about an oil jar "as wide as an abbess".
"Requiem", is about a community of shepherds who challenge the town leader for land rights, to bury their dead.
the film ends with a lovely epilogue, "Colloquio con la Madre" (Conversing with Mother). Omero Antonutti plays Pirandello, and Regina Bianchi as his mother, with a scene on an island of pumice that is exquisite.
The ensemble cast is wonderful, with some members appearing in more than one story. Among the many fine actors are: Massimo Bonetti, Claudio Bigagli, Erica Maria Modugno, Franco Franchi, and Ciccio Ingrassia.
Just over 3 hours long, some may find this film slow, but if you are willing to immerse yourself in its unique atmosphere, you will be greatly rewarded.