La Chimera – A Lovely Film About Eccentric Hooligans

From the director of Happy as Lazzaro comes La Chimera, an award-winning melancholic adventure film. The film was screened at Stockfish this year and has received much appraisal for its excellent filmmaking accomplishments. In this magical tale, Alice Rohrwacher perfectly balances humour and beauty with its interesting characters and the alluring backdrop of Italy. 

In this tale of finding lost things, we follow Arthur, a crumpled English archaeologist back from jail searching for his late beloved Beniamina. Arthur reconnects with his wayward crew of tombaroli accomplices – a happy-go-lucky collective of itinerant grave-robbers who make a living from looting Etruscan tombs and fencing the ancient treasures they dig up. But Arthur is not interested in the artefacts, rather he is searching for a way back to Beniamina. Much like his love for Beniamina, Arthur cannot put a price on the valuable items he finds in the ground lost to time. He is not interested in making quick money like his fellow graverobbers, rather he sees the true value of these items, which is priceless. 

It is not surprising that La Chimera won awards for its cinematography. Its rich and engaging visuals create a visual poem for viewers to submerge themselves in and experience the luscious scenery of Italy. The viewer is allowed to get lost in the film and follow the vibrant group of hooligans, joining in on their shenanigans. In between the bustling shots come intimate moments as Arthur lusts for his lost love. Arthur’s memories are framed as found film footage that capture fragments from his past, leaving the viewer to understand his delicate state without needing a single word to be uttered. 

Lively while at the same time meditative, this film is playful in its editing and perfectly balances drama and comedy by interrupting slower, meditative scenes with fast-paced slapstick comedy-esque montages. The film is not obvious in its plot and it does not need to be. It asks the viewer to read between the lines and interpret the symbolic shots and lyrical story for themselves like you would a poem. 

This stunning film leaves you with a melancholic happiness, in a state of contentedness without knowing all the details or needing to know them. It has everything you want in a film from humour and interesting characters to creative editing and intimate moments all neatly enveloped in a beautiful package.


– Written by Stefanía Stefánsdóttir

The screening was supported by the Instituto Italiano de Cultura.