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THE LAND OF THE SONS (2021,ITA)

Lately, dark predictions about the apocalypse and the end of the world as we know it have spilled over from the movie screen into real life, and something like that has long since appeared in the dark post-apocalyptic dystopia of the Italian Claudio Cupellini. He filmed “La Terra dei figli” or “The Land of the Sons” based on the comic by his compatriot Gian Alfonso Pacinotti, and this film had its premiere at the festival in Karlovy Vary. At one point I thought that this film could most effectively be characterized as the Italian “Water World”, but this is still more of a classic European art film than a Hollywood action spectacle, and somehow I could bet that there is a certain difference in budgets between these two films. Although it is obvious that this film was made on a relatively modest budget, Cupellini went to great lengths to find great, interesting swamp locations in which this futuristic dystopia takes place.

The end of civilization as we know it here came about a decade ago. Water and air are poisoned, everything is full of corpses, and mere survival is an art. Among the few survivors are a father and son, who live in a shack on some kind of lake or swamp. Old boats are the only means of transportation, and the father tries to protect his son by not telling him anything about the world that once existed. This is now the only thing that the son knows, whom we meet in the opening scene when he kills the dog that attacked him in self-defense. It will turn out to be the dog of their neighbor Aring, an old man who is hostile towards father and son, and when the father dies, the son will be left literally alone in the world and his only possession will be his father’s diary.

However, the diary means little to him because his son cannot read or write, so he will head downstream to find someone who can read what his father wrote down. Unfortunately for him, it will turn out that the microcosm in which he lived with his father, in which they only had marginal contact with Aring and the blind old woman he calls a witch (Valeria Golino), was actually a wonderful place to live. It will turn out that apparently only the worst managed to survive the apocalypse, and his dark odyssey through the ruins and remnants of the former civilization will be extremely dangerous and cruel. This dark adventure dystopia had the potential for so much more and it’s a shame that “The Land of Sons” has a lot of pacing problems because this brutal symbolic adventure could have been so much better.

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