Life is hard for Sardinian shepherd Michele Jossu. But it only becomes truly unbearable when he’s up in the mountains and is joined by some uninvited guests: three bandits. The police arrive in pursuit and a gunfight ensues. Michele and his little brother Peppeddu make a run for it. A police officer is killed, and Michele is identified as an accomplice.
He decides to take his sheep and move away, but the animals don’t survive the arduous journey. Desperate, Michele stalks a fellow shepherd, knocks him out, and goes off with his herd. Now he has become a bandit himself.
Vittorio De Seta made Banditi a Orgosolo, his first feature film, after completing his famous series of ten short documentaries about everyday life in poverty-stricken southern Italy. The scenes in this film of cheese being made and bread being baked could have come straight out of one of those documentary miniatures. Using local farmers as actors further underscores the sense of authenticity. For these people, the cycle of injustice, violence, and revenge has been a familiar reality for generations.