I sat down to write a review of “The Lost Language of Cranes in the middle of the night. And on the telly came a movie to which I was immediately attracted because there was a rather nice young man in it, who took his clothes ff quite a lot. He did this for an English painter who had gone to Italy to paint landscapes but had discovered the local attraction of greater interest, to wit: our young friend.
But – there’s more, his brother (the painter’s that is, who in another sub-plot is the model’s father) did something heroic against the Nazis In the war, and there is a move afoot to have him beatified (made a saint). The Catholic Church has sent a rather dowdy English priest to stop this cult because the painter’s brother although a great man was politically “difficult”
The first job our priest sets himself, however, is to disrupt the love between the painter and his model, preaching Catholic rhetoric at them. He succeeds in this and promptly sets about undermining the notion that the painter’s war-hero brother is a saint. Here he comes a cropper, he discovers that the war hero was better than himself and the Church, and goes through a realisation that his role in the life of the village is really quite destructive. When he gets back to his Italian bosses he doesn’t recommend the war hero as a saint as a slight to the Church.
There was far more to this story that I have described, and the characters were far greater in their roles than the story demanded. When one turns one’s mind to the Lost Language of Cranes this was noised about by the media as being noteworthy, one realises in comparison the above-mentioned movie (The Devil’s Advocate – a 1980 West German Religious Drama starring John Mills) with what a load of bogus pomp it was – full of vacuous ambiguity which has been misread as art.