The Poetry of Mining Beautiful White Italian Marble Captured in a Short Film

Did anyone ever truly want to be a coal miner? The work was dirty, dangerous, and poorly compensated, the workers exploited and their unions blocked by callow employers.

Coal production is in a state of terminal decline, but the old phrase “it’s not mining coal” endures.

However hard your job may be, it’s not coal mining.

It’s probably not contemporary marble mining either. This may strike you as a pity, after viewing excerpts from Il Capo, filmmaker Yuri Ancarani’s dreamy 15-minute documentary, set in the Bettogli quarry in Tuscany.




As captured above, the shirtless quarry boss’s silent instructions to workers prying enormous slabs of marble from the barren white landscape with industrial excavators are unbelievably lyrical.

Consider yourself lucky if your job is even a fraction as poetic.

Marble mining seems as though it might also be a secret to staying fit—and tan—well into middle age.

I do wonder if vanity caused our middle aged hero to doff his noise-canceling headphones while the camera rolled. These massive slabs do not go down lightly, thus the necessity of non-verbal communication.

The filmmaker states that he was with the delicacy of his subject’s “light, precise and determined” movements. The quarry crew might not find their boss’ physicality reminiscent of a conductor guiding an orchestra through a particularly sensitive movement, but those who caught the film at one of the many galleries, festivals, and museums where it has screened reportedly do.

Clearly, Ancarani has an attraction to work transpiring in unusual landscapes. Il Capo is a part of his Malady of Iron trilogy, which also documents time spent with divers operating from a submarine deep below the ocean’s surface and a surgical robot whose movements inside the human body are controlled via joystick.

via Nowness

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Her latest script, Fawnbook, is available in a digital edition from Indie Theater Now.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.


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