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‘The Wonders’: A Film by Alice Rohrwacher

The Wonders (Le meraviglie) is a coming-of-age tale by Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher. It tells the story of change inside a small town as seen through the eyes of five sisters.

A family of Tuscan beekeepers living in the countryside find their life disrupted in Alice Rohrwacher’s: The Wonders. (Image: Madman Films / YouTube via Screenshot)

A family of Tuscan beekeepers living in the countryside find their life disrupted in Alice Rohrwacher’s ‘The Wonders.’ (Image: Madman Films / YouTube via Screenshot)

Rohrwacher based the film on her childhood experiences while working with her parents, who were beekeepers. The film was awarded the Grand Prix prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

The film is shot in rural Tuscany, Italy. (Image: Madman Films / YouTube via Screenshot)

The film is shot in rural Tuscany, Italy. (Image: Madman Films / YouTube via Screenshot)

The cast is made up of mainly non-actors and the director’s sister, Alba Rohrwacher, who plays the mother. The camera work has a grainy neorealist look, and the soundtrack is vibrant.

The lead role of Gelsomina is played by Maria Alexander Lungu. (Image: Madman Films / YouTube via Screenshot)

The lead role of Gelsomina is played by Maria Alexander Lungu. (Image: Madman Films / YouTube via Screenshot)

The film’s setting is rural Tuscany, and follows a beekeeping couple and their five daughters. The eldest daughter is named Gelsomina, after Frederico Fellini’s heroine in the film La Strada, and is beautifully played by Maria Alexandra Lungu.

After a morning of tending to the bees, the sisters go for a swim where they encounter a man who emerges from the woods and tells them to be quiet. As they follow him, they come across the filming of an upcoming television show. The host is Milly Catena (played by Monica Belucci), who is dressed in a Fellini knock-off costume. The young girls are spellbound by her presence.

TV host Milly is played by Monica Belucci. (Image: Madman Films / YouTube via Screenshot)

TV host Milly is played by Monica Belucci. (Image: Madman Films / YouTube via Screenshot)

They later see the program on TV, and Gelsomina learns that it is launching a competition called Countryside Wonders, in which seven farmers will compete to have their products featured on the show. She suggests that the family go on the show, and while her mother warms to the idea, her father is strongly opposed, fearing that it will disturb the natural order of the farm.

Gelsomina is given a hair clip from the enchanting TV host Milly. (Image: Madman Films / YouTube via Screenshot)

Gelsomina is given a hair clip from the enchanting TV host Milly. (Image: Madman Films / YouTube via Screenshot)

Gelsomina ends up on the television show against her father’s wishes and performs a trick in which a boy whistles and bees crawl out of her mouth and onto her face.

Gelsomina performing a trick with the bees. (Image: Madman Films / YouTube via Screenshot)

Gelsomina performing a trick with the bees. (Image: Madman Films / YouTube via Screenshot)

Alice Rohrwacher’s first feature film was Corpo celeste in 2011. She also made a short film for the designer miu miu entitled, De Djess.

 In an interview with Film Comment, Rochrwacher talks about her relationship with television, a key component in The Wonders:

I look forward to seeing what she will make next.

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