The Path of Hope, Pietro Germi’s Social Odyssey

Picture of the movie Il cammino della speranza (The path of hope) © DR


In Il Cammino della speranza (The Path of Hope), the Italian director Pietro Germi tells the story of the post-war wanderings of a group of Sicilian villagers whose search for work and a brighter future take them all the way to the snowy French Alps. The film is shown in a restored version as part of Cannes Classics.

Before a successful shift towards comedy – and particularly 1962’s Divorzio all'italiana (Divorce Italian Style), with the legendary Marcello Mastroianni – Pietro Germi was already among the most important figures of Italian neorealism. In 1950 he directed Il Cammino della speranza (The Path of Hope), a film that caused a number of controversies in Italy due to its explicit reference to the right to strike and to the working conditions of miners.

Two years earlier, Pietro Germi found himself in Bardonecchia, near the Franco-Italian border, as an actor in Mario Soldati’s new film Fuga in Francia. One morning, he learned that the Carabinieri had just saved a group of Calabrians from a snowstorm that took them by surprise when they were trying to sneak into France.

Moved by this incident, Germi contacted Federico Fellini and Tullio Pinelli, both of whom he had already worked with, to write the script for a feature film inspired by this event. Il Cammino della speranza (The Path of Hope) was originally entitled Peasant, but this title was rejected, one of Germi’s numerous setbacks when it came to financing his project.

“With the passage of time, Il Cammino della speranza (The Path of Hope) has become the marker of an epoch. The film paints the portrait of an Italy that, in 1950, was starting to believe in reconstruction after the material and moral disasters of the war and in the coming of a better world”, writes Jean Gili, a French specialist in Italian cinema in his 2011 book, Le Cinéma italien.