Land of the Sons
Italy, France: 2021
Original title: La terra dei figli
Director: Claudio Cupellini
Screenplay: Claudio Cupellini
Actors: Leon de la Vallée, Paolo Pierobon, Maria Roveran
Publisher: Condor Entertainment
Genre: Science fiction
DVD/BR release date: May 25, 2022
In the future, a mysterious plague has ended civilization. Humanity has almost disappeared. In this abandoned world that has become hostile, a father and his son fight for their survival. When the first one ends up dying, the young man embarks on a journey into the unknown, during which he will learn that each encounter could be the last…
Land of the Sons is the film adaptation of an Italian “graphic novel”, released in 2016 and titled La Terra dei figli (“The Land of the Sons”, Futuropolis, 2017 for the French edition). For those who missed this little monument of the Ninth Art when it was released, it is a great post-apocalyptic science fiction story imagined by Gian Alfonso Pacinotti alias Gipi, and having won numerous awards in Europe. It is a hard work, very strongly impregnated with despair and giving off over its pages a bitter feeling of imminent death, and like a vague smell of rottenness born from the story that is told to us.
The first observation that one makes when discovering Claudio Cupellini’s film is that the same smell of decomposition pervades Land of the Sons. The airy, pointed and dry line of Gipi is succeeded here by a minimalist but extremely effective set-up. The filmmaker has a great sense of the image, and manages to convey a lot of things by avoiding superfluous explanatory dialogues: the harshness of this new world is essentially reflected in the emaciated faces and the gnarled hands of his characters – the spectator will quickly realize that no hope is allowed, and that we are not here to laugh.
In Land of the Sons, the context in which the story takes place and the various ravaged landscapes filmed by Claudio Cupellini not only serve to illustrate the vision of the future imagined by Gipi, but constitute in their own way an essential part of the story and the narration. Here, the landscape is a real silent character, constantly weeping in the background. And it is in this ability to let the environment do the talking that the film’s greatest merit lies. Thanks to enveloping camera movements, careful editing, threadbare costumes and a truly suffocating photo, Land of the Sons plunges the viewer into a place beyond time and space. The swamp in which the father and son move at the beginning of the film could be anywhere on the globe, and is quickly reflected as a perfect mirror of the moral decay in which everyone wallows.
The central question at the heart of Land of the Sons is that of transmission: how indeed can we envisage the future at the heart of a world that has lost the words to tell its story? This is the whole existential dilemma on which Claudio Cupellini’s film is built: in this universe governed by the law of the strongest, words no longer seem to have any use, to the point that even the main character has no name. Having been brought up like an animal, the young boy at the heart of the plot (Leon de la Vallée) only knows of life hunting and the repetition of the same gestures, which he reproduces in a kind of routine. full of violence and mud.
The only reflection of a hypothetical “before” life consists of a diary, carefully filled in by his father and which he inherited when his father died. Not knowing how to read, the young man will gradually become obsessed with the content of these mysterious pages. The journey to nowhere undertaken by the son over Land of the Sons will thus take the form of a singular story of coming of age: its avowed aim is to find someone who can shed light on the content of the diary. This is the whole heart of the film: however rustic he may be, the young man is driven by a real thirst for knowledge that goes far beyond the sordid universe of which he seems to be a prisoner.
This element partly explains the title of the film, Land of the Sons : we understand that those who will shape the world of tomorrow are indeed young people, who survive and try to lay the foundations for a better future. The relationship forged by the young man with Maria (Maria Roveran), the young prisoner he helps to escape, also evokes a possibility of “fertility” at the heart of this world in decomposition, which contrasts sharply with the setting of the film and tends to bring a touch of hope to the whole.
It’s at Condor Entertainment that today we have the pleasure of discovering Land of the Sons on Blu-ray media. The Scope 2.35:1 format was respected, and the sharpness/colors turned out to be quite satisfactory. The High-Definition rendering is most correct, but a few small problems remain: we will start with a 1080i encoding, which reduces the duration of the film from 2h01 to 1h56. Spectators whose retinas are sensitive to jerks will notice the deinterlacing from the first minutes of the film, because Claudio Cupellini’s direction regularly uses lateral tracking shots, which therefore lack fluidity. Similarly, if the master should satisfy the greatest number, it should be noted that the management of contrasts and night scenes leaves something to be desired, with many flat areas or completely pixelated shadow areas. On the sound side, the French version as well as the original version are offered in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 : in both cases, the immersion is excellent, the effects are dynamic and numerous, and the acoustic rendering displays a rather impressive scale. We will naturally favor the original version, if only to appreciate the general performance of the cast at its fair value: the French version produced by the teams from AudioProjects Unfortunately, we always offer the same dubbing actors with a monotonous tone. We recognize in particular the voices of Michael Rudy Cermeno and Caroline Lemaire.
In the supplements section, we will start with a short making-of (4 minutes) which will briefly review the work of adapting the original comic strip, but also the sets, make-up and costumes. Interesting but too short. We will then continue with a featurette dedicated to thegraphic novel adaptation by Gipi (2 minutes), without ever saying that the author speaks about the modifications made to his work by the scriptwriter / director Claudio Cupellini. Finally, we will end with a reproduction of the First 20 pages of the graphic novel, which it is hoped will spark renewed interest in this major work. It should also be noted that a pretty little bookplate signed Gipi is also available within the case.