(Original Title: L’Infinita Fabbrica del Duomo)
A peculiar documentary film-description-presentation of Milan’s superb cathedral. A church larger than life and perhaps as close to the sublime as we have gotten in recent centuries. A work constantly progressing, as the title of the film itself suggests, always adding and subtracting from the original, cleaning and maintaining it, paying tribute to something that is more a representation of something else than that something itself.
It’s faith, yes, but it goes beyond that. It’s love for beauty, harmony, peace, veneration and artistry. But it’s also a need to impress; it’s grandeur and to a certain extent adoration of a country and its traditions, a culture, an ethnic and religious set of beliefs. It’s the very Italian need to be better and bigger than others – if not the biggest and best. It’s relentless craftsmanship with attention to detail that ends up becoming pure obsession with detail. – The Never Ending Factory of the Duomo is a one-track mind.
Read at Unsung Films: Particle Fever.
And there is no dialogue. Massimo D’Anolfi and Martina Parenti weave together a series of mystical sequences showing craftsmen laboring over everything, from the most important sculpture to the most – insignificant for us – detail. Nothing is beneath them, while every little thing seems to take so much time and patience, as well as a level of serenity that is so foreign to someone outside this context, and definitely someone as impatient as myself. Working in solitude and on something you believe so deeply, must bring a certain calming effect, but for most of us, it can also get tedious, if not spooky, after a while.
How long can one take pleasure in the sound of the leaves being brushed to the side, rocks crushing into pieces as they collapse in the ground, doors slamming and machinery noise overpowering everything else? For an artist, I can’t say. But for a viewer, it turns out that the 74 minutes that the documentary lasts are just the right amount of time so as to discover something magnificent, enter the world of faith and art, and appreciate this enigmatic combination of these two spheres, which requires the ongoing collaboration of acceptance and intolerance, humility and arrogance.
There is loneliness and unsettling emptiness. Very little thinking but a lot of sentiment. More resembling an art exhibition than a film, The Never Ending Factory of the Duomo is here to marry sights and sounds with devoutness and spirituality. And so the fallen leaves come to converse with the marble dust, just like the wind strokes the dust off the tombstone. But not a word is ever spoken. Some are written, but none of the information they convey is essential, for the emotions are successfully aroused through images and sounds, without a need for language.
As a matter of fact, the sensation is sometimes so penetrating, the sounds so soft and the solitude so overwhelming, that I think they create illusions. As the heavy doors close and the church bells ring, the vastness of the cathedral and the prominence of it all inspire awe, reverence and to a certain extent, paranoia. Because how can one resist believing in something bigger, when everything surrounding him is so vast and detached from reality? When the dome gets lost in the clouds, like a stairway to heaven, it’s really difficult not to get carried away.
Watch the trailer for The Never Ending Factory of the Duomo (L’Infinita Fabbrica del Duomo) here: