The Olive Tree (12)

The Olive Tree (12)

Directed by Iciar Bollain
Picturehouse, Liverpool
11th April 2017

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This is a story about the consequences of the felling of a two thousand-year-old olive tree in Castellon in Spain, which was then transported to the unlikely setting inside a building of a multi-national energy company in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Ludicrously they use an image of the tree as the company logo. Moral and ethical values are very much out the window. It could be said that this type of marketing co-opts values.

The film centres around a woman’s bid, Alba (Anna Castillo), to bring it back to the orchard of her family home.

The s film is very symbolic. Yes, it is about one olive tree but it is also a metaphor of mankind’s wanton destruction of flora and fauna around the globe. As if to illustrate this point, people in Poland have recently been given the go-ahead to saw down trees willy- nilly throughout the country with no state intervention to prevent them doing so.

The olive tree in question was sold in order to switch olive oil production for poultry farming but this has not proved profitable to the family, living and working on the homestead.

Alba’s grandfather (Manuel Cucala), a non-actor but very authentic as a man crushed by the disappearance of his beloved olive tree in his life. He lays down stones where the tree used to be and wanders around in silence, unresponsive to the wishes of his family to communicate with him.

In a bid to bring the tree back to Castellon Alba enlists the reluctant assistance of Rafa (Pep Ambros) who is infatuated by her, and her uncle Arti (Javier Guiterrez) to go to Germany in a truck.

When they arrive there a social media protest against the company’s action is mounted.

Flashbacks are used in a sublime way, including the child Alba, who, despite being only eight-years-old, knows how passionate her beloved grandfather feels about the tree, ascends it while the bulldozers moved in.

It must be noted that no olive trees were harmed in any way during the making of the film.

Particular credit must go the cinematographer Sergi Gallardo’s use of widescreen shots, which at times gave a documentary-like effect, notably the stupendous views of olive groves in Granada.

Forthcoming films to be shown under the ‘Discover Tuesday’ heading at the Picturehouse include ‘Kenneth Anger Films’ (18 April); ‘TED Cinema Experience: Opening Event’ (25 April); ‘Those Who Jump (2 May); Neruda (9 May); and ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ 16 May). They all start at 6 pm.

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