Extra Virgin Movies: EVOO, Films and Much More...

Extra Virgin Movies: EVOO, Films and Much More...

2019/01/02 - Lets talk about oil and olives, about movies and gastronomy. Here is a cinematographic selection taking cuisine, the olive and/or extra virgin as an axis and a leitmotiv, a pretext or prop, leaving no room for indifference. A beautiful article published in Olivatessen by Mercacei #4. Lights, camera and... action!

The Olive Tree
(Iciar Bollaín, Spain, 2016)

In The Olive Tree -her seventh fiction motion picture and third collaboration with the screen-writer Paul Laverty- the Madrid director Iciar Bollaín, weaves in a symbolic tone an emotional tale of affections and disaffections, agreements and disagreements, with the economic and values crises as backdrop, using the ancient tree as a powerful iconic image of the Mediterranean landscape, land and identity. A beautiful story about the magical relationship between man and nature, and how ambition and meanness in the human being can corrupt this relationship. A poetic and moving film that touches the soul and vindicates the importance of family ties and nature in our lives, while it bestows value on the extraordinary natural and cultural heritage that the preservation of millennial olive groves can suppose.

Recommended to: Lovers of soulful stories, and defenders of nature and our natural heritage.

Lorenzo’s Oil
(George Miller, USA, 1992)

Based on real facts, Lorenzo’s Oil is a family drama that narrates a great story of the will to overcome. That of an Italian-American economist and his wife of Irish origin, and their fight to obtain a medicine that could save the life of their son, victim of a strange and terrible degenerative illness, known as ALD (Adrenoleukodystrophy). Ignored by the medical community, and refusing to accept the fatal diagnosis of an inevitable and early death, Augusto and Michaela Odone -Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon- question the official treatments applied and embark on the search for a remedy that could save little five-year-old Lorenzo’s life, declared terminally ill. The brave fight put up by these selfless parents that never gave up finds its reward in the discovery that gives name to the film, an oil which is synthesized drop-by-drop, that managed to delay the progression of the illness. Utilized since them as a preventive method for the treatment of ALD, Lorenzo’s oil is made of oleic acid -very abundant in olive oil- and erucic acid -that abounds in colza or rapeseed oil,- a combination that reduces long term fatty acids, the main cause for the illness, an affection that provokes intense lack of myelin and progressively attacks the brain.

Recommended to: Selfless parents and those who believe in miracles.

Eat, Pray, Love
(Ryan Murphy, U.S.A. 2010)

The adaption of Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling autobiography, Eat, Pray, Love is a story of female self-affirmation, narrating the journey of initiation made by a woman in the middle of an emotional and spiritual crisis, when she decides one day to abandon her easy life -including her husband- and start off on a journey around the world to try and find her real self. During her particular year-off, she will be eating in Italy, praying in India and loving in Indonesia. In the part of the film that takes place in Rome and Naples, the protagonist -who has Julia Roberts’ glamorous face- dives into the pleasures of Italian gastronomy in the form of ice-creams, Neapolitan pizzas -with olive oil, of course, which she falls helplessly in love with,- brushetta, pasta al dente, spaghetti all’Amariciana... Italy has never been so edible.

Recommended to: Italian food fanatics and women in need of a change of direction in their lives.

The Godfather Part II
(Francis Ford Coppola, U.S.A. 1975)

The Godfather Part II shattered the myth that second parts were never any good, overtaking its already acclaimed predecessor. And in both films olive oil takes a very significant place. Genco Olive Oil, the importing firm created by Vito Corleone and his partners Genco Abbandando -the son of a grocery store owner and a close childhood friend, who’s name the company takes and whom in time would become his personal consigliere,- Tessio and Clemenza, is one of the culinary icons of the saga. Corleone invests the better part of his capital in it, with Genco in charge of the storage of the product at his father’s old establishment, whilst Tessio and Clemenza are in charge of selling the oil. The goal was none other than to establish a monopoly and thus gain complete control over the entire demand for olive oil in the U.S.A., thus supplanting market competition. In order to do this, one of the methods used was to reduce to a minimum the selling price of the oil, at the expense of a more than doubtful quality -as Tom Mueller, the author of Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil says, fraud in olive oil came from the Italian mafia’s dealings.- To be able to export his olive oil, Vito needed the consent of the local capo, none other than his family’s murderer, Don Ciccio. However, to fulfill his purpose Don Vito ends up abandoning marketing and resorting to the use of force.

Recommended to: Exquisite palates without too many scruples.

Non c’è pace tra gli ulivi
(Giuseppe de Santis, Italy, 1950)

Filmed on location in Fondi -the director’s birthplace,- Itri and Sperlonga, Non c’è pace tra gli ulivi (No Peace Under the Olive Tree) is a rural drama with social content, belonging to the current of Italian neo-realism that followed the Second World War, a popular and progressive type of movie-making whose great representatives are, besides De Santis himself, Roberto Rossellini, Luchino Visconti and the Vittoria de Sica-Cesare Zavattini tandem. The film integrates political analysis, marked by class struggle, into the protagonists’ private life, with the undertones of a peasant society that is still primitive and conflictive, that of his own native village. According to De Santis: “What characterizes neo-realism is not the new way of narrating things, nor is it the camera that abandons the studios to portray the realities of street-life, nor is it the use of non-professional actors and actresses: it is the clear and sincere facing up to the problems of our times, of our people." Common worries that include the denunciation of fascism and the exaltation of partisans, the underdevelopment of the country’s southern area, the unemployment in cities, the social problems in the countryside, the status of women, the misery of the older population or crime in cities.

Recommended to: Lovers of socio-political and nostalgic films with a strong social conscience.

Our Summer in Provence
(Roselyne Bosch, France, 2014)

This lovely French dramatic comedy narrates the generational gap between the grandfather (Jean Reno), an ex-motorbike rider with a hippie past, who has traveled round the world before retiring to cultivate olive trees on his farm in Provence, and his three grandsons, whom he hardly knows, and who are going to spend the summer holidays at his home. An experience they will never forget. An ode to life and the importance of family, that talks about the difficult transition into adulthood and the need to build affective links to overcome the void produced by the lack of communication.

Recommended to: For lovers of family films with message and content.

Jaén, Virgin&Extra
(José Luis López-Linares, Spain, 2018)

This is not an advertisement, nor a report, nor a corporate or institutional video. Produced by Antonio Saura and directed by José Luís López-Linares, Jaén, Virgin&Extra is a rigorous and emotional film that delves into the universe of extra virgin olive oil, for some the gastronomical revolution of the 21st century. A journey from tradition to the future, that investigates the origins of this ancient foodstuff, born in the lands that are kissed by the Mediterranean, and that today has expanded all worldwide. Narrated by the voices of its main actors, to transmit its memory, legacy, wisdom and flavor. The secret –and the mystery- of the best EVOO from Jaén, the path that olive oil will take in the world to come, the interest in innovations and internationalization, the health benefits of extra virgin, its role as Ambassador of the new Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine, the oldest and most beautiful olive trees in Spain, the cult to the avant-garde, coming from the essence of tradition... The adventure of olive oil is what Jaén, Virgin&Extra is about. No more and no less than that.

Recommended to: The devotees and those curious about EVOO Made in Spain, and its merits.

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