Village Without Words
Produced by: David Kurland Productions, Rome, for ECA Italy
Directed by: David Kurland
Format: 35mm, 1,37, mono, s/w
If there is a model Marshall Plan ﬁlm, then Village without Words could well be it. Kurland’s ﬁlm surprisingly takes on the form of a hymn, a celebration of the aid program and the economic boom. Many of the methods and techniques which the propaganda of the “European Recovery Program” (ERP) so likes to use are not used in Village without Words. Instead, the ﬁlm completely breaks away from the documentary style. Its pictures are built in such a way that each shot forms a part of the whole. Kurland does without characterization within a story and there are no identiﬁable individual ﬁgures. He doesn’t focus on concrete projects, which it would be possible to document cinematically, or on decent stories which could set an example, and which could be re-told in the ﬁlm ac-cordingly. Rather he aims to create a ﬁlm which can then act as a symbol – not for this or that project, but rather for the whole idea of the Marshall Plan. Village without Words is a true ‘success story’. All the scenery which appears in so many Marshall Plan ﬁlms, in order to depict the success of a particular ERP project which is tied to a particular place, time or person, is already here. And in its purest form: some sort of factory, workers who could come from anywhere, streets and shop windows of an anonymous town, an unmoving carousel – all this is the ﬁlm’s raw material. The ﬁrst part of the ﬁlm could well be given the title ‘Taking Stock’. Things appear to have gone badly. A ruined factory, streets empty of people, shop windows without any goods. All the wheels have stopped moving. The only thing on the march is decay. The scene of misery fades out. A ship pulls into the harbor and from this point things start moving. The ERP logo is displayed prominently on the cases being unloaded and on the train which trans-ports them. Workers return to the ruined factory, repair the machines and start up production. The streets are busy again and the shop windows ﬁll up with goods. Whereas in the ﬁrst section of the ﬁlm the camera panned across an empty square onto a boy playing in the fountain with a toy boat, now the carousel is once more turning. At the beginning nothing worked, now at the end everything is back in order again. Village without Words is on the one hand idealized, but on the other a truly superior piece of work.
© Rainer Rother (T.: M.F.)
Village without Words: Told only with images and music, this is the story of the revival of an Italian village where life had ground to a halt. All it takes is raw material supplied by the Marshall Plan to the local glove factory. The townspeople have work again, and an income. The baker bakes again, the shoemaker cobbles, and even the carousel on the town square is heard once more as it revolves for the children’s pleasure.
© 2002 Linda R. Christenson