Christ Stopped at Eboli (1979): Francesco Rosi’s Version of Carlo Levi’s Acclaimed Memoir

Noted Italian filmmaker Francesco Rosi directed Christ Stopped at Eboli (Italian: Cristo si è fermato a Eboli), a drama adapted from the acclaimed memoir of the same name by Carlo Levi.

Christ Stopped at Eboli
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Poster for the film

It stars Gian Maria Volonté as Levi, a political dissident under Fascism, who was exiled in the Basilicata region in Southern Italy.

The film was shown out of competition at the 1979 Cannes Film Fest, and was the first to receive a BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1983.

Carlo Levi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli, a memoir by  published in 1945, offers an account of his exile from 1935-1936 to Grassano and Aliano, in southern Italy, in the region of Lucania.

“The title of the book comes from an expression by the people of ‘Gagliano’ who say of themselves, ‘Christ stopped short of here, at Eboli’ which means they feel they have been bypassed by Christianity, by morality, by history itself—that they have somehow been excluded from the full human experience.”

Eboli, a location in the region of Campania, is where the road and railway to Basilicata branched away from the coastal north-south routes.

A native of Turin, Carlo Levi was a doctor, writer and painter. In 1935, Levi’s anti-fascist beliefs and activism led to banishment by Benito Mussolini’s fascist government to a period of internal exile in a remote region of southern Italy.

Despite being a political exile, Levi was welcomed by the gracious people of this area. His book, Christ Stopped At Eboli, focuses on his year in the villages of the Lucania region and the people he encountered there.