Hard-core formalist filmmaking from Italy—grandly pictorial, completely wordless, and resolutely thematic in its development of four linked episodes about death, decay, and generation. In the first, an aging goatherd tends to his flock and then expires; in the second, a calf is born but gets separated from the flock and starves to death under a giant fir tree; in the third, the tree is felled by villagers and the trunk is ultimately sectioned to build a natural coal furnace; and in the fourth, the coal burns down and the furnace is torn apart to reveal the slag heap beneath. Filmmaker Michelangelo Frammartino favors elaborately composed long shots, making fine geometric use of the choked village’s winding alleyways and wisely exploiting its earthy textures to soften his rigid visual design. Like the incessant ringing of cowbells in the first two segments, the film may either hypnotize you or drive you stark staring mad.