Idlers of the fertile valley: Allegory for the present times?

Idlers of the fertile valley is a 1978 Greek drama film revolving around a father, his three sons and a maid who takes care of them. They receive an inheritance which includes a mansion in the countryside and enough money that will provide for them for the rest of their lives. They decide to move into this mansion house to live a life of lavishness. They also take the maid along with them.

They have all the riches one can possibly need to live out a fulfilling life but as time goes by, a strange sleep takes over them. The maid is always there to do the household chores so these guys have absolutely nothing to do. As time passes they stop coming out of their bed even and start to consider movement an unnecessary inconvenience. The youngest of the three sons wants to make a life for himself by getting a job but he is forced to stay in the house because of peer pressure.

In abundance, it is easy to forget about the basic needs since no effort is required to do anything. Everything is done for. Idlers of the fertile valley takes this up a notch revealing the dangers that abundance can bring but it does in a particularly unharmful way to the society. Only the family suffers without knowing that they are suffering. In real-world, however, abundance has a tendency to make people blind to the struggles of others.

Idlers of the fertile valley does all this at a physical level. If a connection is made with the mind then it reveals the dangers abundance can pose. It means that the mind is sleeping and activated only by the things deemed fit. Just like the film, it is a bizzre connection to make.

In the film, the four men lose all their desire to do anything. That includes walking, seeing the sunlight and even procreating. In the real world, the mind refuses to see anything that doesn’t concern its own beliefs. Since we have what we need, we often don’t see the suffering of other people, in some sense, our minds are sleeping. Now, it can be judged that this is not harming the individual but are we sure about that? A society is made up of individuals. If the number of such individuals is high enough then the society can fall apart since the misfortunes of the less fortunate are seen with a blind eye. The mind of the fortunate is simply not capable of making this connection thus making the individual suffer without knowing and in turn making the entire society suffer without knowing that it is suffering.

In the film, it becomes impossible for the eldest son to even come out of bed. A mouse annoys him but he does nothing about it except complaining. It’s too much of an inconvenience for him to move his body in order to get rid of the mouse. He gets so lazy that a sloth can be considered active if a comparison is made. In real-world, a sleeping mind ignores clear annoyances and instead starts to consider them necessary evils since an otherwise argument requires the mind to wake up and think.

At the end of the film, the youngest son who is clearly unhappy with the ways that his family is living decides to leave the house and get a job. When he actually does that he is faced by extreme challenges. The extreme moral pressure from his father and brothers seems like an impossible hurdle to overcome. He somehow beats that only to find that his body which has stayed in bed for months becomes extremely weak making it a challenge to walk even a few metres. The sleeping mind has to overcome moral pressure from society. If it somehow is able to overcome that then forming different opinions becomes a challenge because the mind has not done that before.

I might be looking too much into this film however it seems like a perfect allegory for the present times. It is the extremities of the metaphorical connection. Idlers of the fertile valley is a bizarre film but an important one nonetheless.

Author avatar
Ronak Parmar
Art, Design and Technology excite me and keep me busy all the time, I am constantly in search for new things to learn. Having a curious mind, I have taught myself Music Production and web design and development. I can say one of my hobbies is to learn new things.

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