Nothing Left to Do But Cry

Non ci resta che piangere (in the U.S. is also known as Nothing Left to Do But Cry) is a 1984 Italian comedy film, starring Roberto Benigni and Massimo Troisi, who are also directors and writers of the movie.

Non ci resta che piangere
The original film poster
Directed byRoberto Benigni
Massimo Troisi
Produced byMauro Berardi
Ettore Rosboch
Written byGiuseppe Bertolucci
Roberto Benigni
Massimo Troisi (story)
StarringRoberto Benigni
Massimo Troisi
Music byPino Donaggio
CinematographyGiuseppe Rotunno
Edited byNino Baragli
Distributed byCecchi Gori Group
Release date
  • 1984 (1984)
Running time
113 minutes
145 minutes (extended cut)


School janitor Mario (Massimo Troisi) and teacher Saverio (Roberto Benigni) are in a car at a railroad crossing, waiting for the train to pass. The scenery is the Tuscan countryside, in 1984. Saverio complains of his sister Gabriellina's being unwell since her boyfriend left her three years ago and asks Mario to marry her, much to Mario's frustration.

Since the keeper tells them that several more trains are coming through before they can pass, the two decide to drive on a dirt road through the fields hoping to find another way to cross the tracks. Shortly afterwards, the car breaks down, and as the night approaches, it starts to rain. The two men find shelter under a huge tree, but it is late, and there seems to be no hope the rain will stop before the night is over. While talking about Saverio's moroseness at school, which even the students have noticed, they spot a light through the rain that turns out to be that of a small inn with an old-fashioned wooden sign. Mario and Saverio decide to spend the night there and are hosted in a room along with a third man, who is already sleeping when they come in.

In the morning, the two wake up to find the man urinating onto the street from the window. Their laughter is stopped at once by the sight of a spear hitting him in the chest and killing him. From the window they spot riders on horses fleeing the scene. They rush downstairs to see what happened, and find, in astonishment, that they have travelled back in time to the year 1492 and are in a small town called Frittole.

Forced to come to terms with the fact after being in denial, they make friends with Vitellozzo, brother of the man killed in the inn. He explains them he is in a feud with a gang of men led by Giuliano Del Capecchio, who are responsible for the death of Vitellozzo's brother and other members of his family. Once in Frittole, Mario and Saverio meet Vitellozzo's mother and try to get used to the idea of being in 1492. Saverio feels at ease while Mario simply cannot get along with what he is going through and aches to go back to his time.

The next Sunday, they go to the church and Mario meets Pia, a rich girl, and they fall in love, mostly through Mario's posing as a musician and the composer of numerous songs he remembers (poorly) from the 20th century, including Yesterday by the Beatles and the Italian national anthem. After trying to help Vitellozzo, who is sent to prison for defying a curfew on open windows set by Del Capecchio's gang, they help to run Vitellozzo's family's butcher shop. Mario leaves most of the work to Saverio as he courts Pia, and an increasingly frustrated Saverio at last convinces him to leave for Spain in order to stop Christopher Columbus from setting sail and discovering the Americas. Saverio argues that both the extermination of the Native Americans and the creation of American pop culture are disasters that must be averted.

On their journey they come across a female archer, presumably Moorish, named Astriaha, who shoots at them with her bow, missing them and hitting their cart instead. They flee and spend the night in another inn avoiding recognition by Astriaha, who has followed them. In the morning the two again encounter the woman, who aims her bow at them once more and interrogates them.

From here, the theatrical cut and the extended director's cut diverge fairly widely:

In the theatrical cut, the amazon faints during one of the pair's characteristically inane arguments, and, although Saverio wants to help her, Mario convinces him they had better run. Thus they continue on and end up meeting Leonardo da Vinci at a campsite by a lake. Mario and Saverio, having realized earlier that they will need help to reinvent everything they remember from the 20th century, decide to pitch their ideas to da Vinci. They try to explain trains, thermometers, traffic lights, and Scopa to da Vinci, without much success. Eventually they give up and set off, and once in Spain they stop at an inn and meet Astriaha once more. She explains that Christopher Columbus has set sail, and that her duty as a Spanish soldier was to prevent foreigners from entering Spain until he had safely embarked. The two are stunned at the news—particularly since according to Saverio's curriculum as a schoolteacher, Columbus shouldn't have left for another month or more—and run to the nearby ocean shore in the hopes of stopping him, but they are too late.

Saverio breaks down and reveals that his real intention in stopping Columbus was preventing the future birth of Alfredo, his sister's former boyfriend, who broke her heart when he left her, in the hopes that she might be happy again. Moved, Mario promises to marry Gabriellina if they ever get back to the 20th century. While going back to the village, they spy the steam of a train coming up over the crest of a hill and are overjoyed to realize they have returned to their century. But it turns out to be just da Vinci, who appears to have taken their ideas to heart in the meantime and invented the locomotive. The movie ends with the two men resigning themselves to their fate.

In the extended cut, Astriaha says she has not slept for three days because of the two, and that they must get back to her superior, Alonso. They say that they don't know who Alonso is, at which she faints. After having revived her, Saverio falls in love with her. She is caught making love to Mario some time after, at which point the two men have an argument, finally racing to the ocean shore. Here, they shout for Christopher Columbus, but find that he has already left.

The two cuts of the film converge again in the scene on the shore.


See also

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