Christ Stopped at Eboli. 1979. Italy/France. Directed by Francesco Rosi. Written by Rosi, Tonnino Guerra, Raffaele La Capria, based on the book by Carlo Levi. With Gian Maria Volontè, Lea Massari, Irene Papas. In Italian; English subtitles. DCP. 220 min.
In 1935, painter, writer, doctor, and anti-Fascist leader Carlo Levi (Gian Maria Volontè) is exiled from Turin to Lucania, a region deep into the instep of southern Italy, a place so isolated and backward that, so outsiders say, even Christ has forsaken it. Made for Italian television in four 55-minute parts, Christ Stopped at Eboli was originally released in the US in a two-hour theatrical version—slashed in half and absurdly retitled simply Eboli. Rialto pursued the uncut version for over 20 years, and new subtitles were done by Michael F. Moore (recent translator of Alessandro Manzoni’s 1827 novel The Betrothed), who also created a new explanatory prologue for the Rialto release. “Forty years after its premiere, American audiences can savor its earthy and transcendent glory in its full running time, in a print that Rialto has restored to its pungent, moody luster, with clear, nuanced subtitles by Michael F. Moore. This is the ideal way to experience Levi’s (and Rosi’s) daring act of immersion” (Michael Sragow).