Gianfranco Pannone’s documentary, Sul Vulcano (On The Volcano), shows us what it’s like for the people who live in the shadow of imminent disaster, those who populate the base of Mount Vesuvius. And what keeps them there? Tradition, superstition, economic necessity, and devotion to a force of nature that, as they freely admit, could turn on them at any moment. Like characters in a fairy-tale, they’ve made their peace with a sleeping monster that spits fire and ash in angry dreams. A fatalistic attitude keeps them from worrying too much about what happens when he wakes up.
Is there an escape plan? City planners have looked the other way as the population density has grown wildly out of proportion with the infrastructure, and evacuation could be a problem.
Maria, a nursery gardener reasons that “We shouldn’t be afraid of Vesuvius because Vesuvius is so fed up with our cruelty and the abuse we give it, that it won’t erupt anymore. It’s said goodbye. That’s how I see it.”
Toni Servillo, Donatella Finocchiaro, and Fabrizio Gifuni narrate poetic passages written to honor and explain the region, and historic photos and film footage show us what it was like during eruptions in the past.