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Film / Padre Padrone

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Padre Padrone is a 1977 film by Vittorio and Paolo Taviani. The English title might be "Father and Master" though it is frequently untranslated.

It is set in the village of Siligo in Sardinia, and focuses on the Ledda family, particularly the domineering father and his sensitive son, Gavino. Life is very harsh there and the father exploits his little son. First he takes Gavino from school at the age of six to be a shepherd. When the boy tries to run away, his father beats him brutally.

Years pass, and Gavino becomes a man in his early twenties, still completely subdued to his father. To quit the farm he first unsuccessfully tries to become a guest worker in Germany, but his father doesn't give permission and Gavino has to come home. Later he enlists in the Italian army and becomes educated, not only learning to read but showing a talent for languages. On his return from the army he finally stands up to his father.


The film won the Palme d'Or in 1977.


  • Abusive Parents: Up to Eleven with Gavino's father. However the film also discloses the reasons for that: life is harsh in Sardnia and farming is precarious. So one has to exploit children to survive economically.
  • Alliterative Title: Padre Padrone.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Subverted. The fact that some young rural Sardinians acquire their first sexual experience with donkeys, sheep and hens is treated very matter-of-factly. Apparently one villager had a hard time getting excited during a visit to a brothel, because he got too used to having sex with animals with tails.
  • Bookends: The film starts with the real Gavino Ledda basically introducing the story, and the actor who plays his father, then we see the first scene in which the father pulls 6-year-old Gavino out of school. It ends with the return of the real Gavino Ledda, who talks about how he went to university and became a scholar of languages before writing his autobiography. Then the first scene plays again, right before the film ends.
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  • Cameo: Cesare, Gavino's friend in the army, is played by no one else that the (then-young) Nanni Moretti who later would become renowned due to his deadpan comedies including Bianca, La messa e finita and Caro Diario.
  • Call-Back:
    • In the farm Gavino deceives his father when he secretly exchanges two sheep from his flock for an accordion. He cuts across his mouth with a knife then tells his father that robbers attacked and stabbed him and took two sheep. Later he resorts to the same ruse in the army when he is said to read by his teacher as he cannot read. Even later upon his return from the army his father cuts across his lips during their brawl.
    • At two times in his life nearly twenty years apart, a goat poops in the milk pail while Gavino is milking it.
  • Crapsack World: Sardinia, where seemingly everyone is trapped in an endless cycle of grim poverty. Everyone hates it there. When Gavino is leaving for Germany to be a guest worker, he pees on the ground to express his contempt for his home.
  • Diegetic Switch: Gavino's time learning to be a radio technician in the army ends with him constructing a radio, which he has to turn on in an examination. The soaring music that comes from the radio plays through the cut to the scene that follows.
  • Dramatization: Gavino Ledda is an actual Sardinian Italian philologist who wrote a book about the experiences of his childhood and youth.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: A rather unconventional use of this trope when a heavy tolling bell is heard...when Gavino faces the prospect of having to read in a class. (He can't read.)
  • Friends Are Chosen, Family Aren't: Near the end an angry Gavino says that all his father has ever done is exploit him and other people have helped him far more.
  • Gratuitous Latin: Gavino who is conscripted in his twenties is taught to write in the army. He also learns some Latin and pronounces several phrases in this language while he rides the tank on manoeuvres to his friend in a nearby tank by the radio.
  • The One Who Made It Out: Gavino, raised a poor peasant in a village of poor peasants, illiterate until he was twenty years old, becomes a linguist, scholar, and celebrated author. Possibly subverted at the end, however, when he says that he came back to Siligo because he fears he'd be "mute" on the mainland and he needs his hometown for artistic stimulus.
  • Perpetual Poverty: Gavino's father says to the teacher and Gavino's mates that for his family, as they are poor, poverty, not education, is compulsory. Then he takes him away fron the class.
  • Real Person Cameo: The real Gavino Ledda pops up at the beginning and the end, talking about his life and his story.
  • Road Apples: A goat poops in the milk pail as Gavino is milking it. We are then treated to the goat's Inner Monologue, which reveals that it ruined the milk on purpose.
  • Title Drop: One of the pallbearers at a funeral says "My master calls me by my name. He's my father." Near the end Gavino's father says "Here I'm your father and your master."
  • Toilet Humor: After Sebastiano and Gellon have made peace and are shearing sheep together, Sebastiano loudly breaks wind. Gellon seems to take this as a challenge and breaks wind even louder.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Zigzagged for Gavino after he made his military service. He is marginally more courageous but still not as defiant and independent as one would suppose him to be after the time in the army. Father to an extent still suppresses him even though he does make a stand with the mixed result. In the end he simply quits the farm once more.
  • Unnamed Parent: Both father and mother of Gavino are only credited as such.
  • Untranslated Title: Padre Padrone