The Peasant and the Priest tells the story of two Italian men in their eighties whose ways of life have survived from medieval Italy to the present. Sergio, a sharecropper, uses ancient farming methods that have become overshadowed by corporate agriculture. Father Oreste fights the tide of sexual slavery, which grows each day as more and more women from Africa and Europe are forced into prostitution in Italy. Each man tries to make his contribution to a world that moves relentlessly and carelessly forward. Both represent ways of life that are rapidly fading as the modern world closes in.
The point of departure for exploring the two parallel lives is a 14th century fresco, The Allegory of Good and Bad Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Uniquely secular for its time, it tells a cautionary story of necessary struggles if a city is to establish and maintain a republican form of government. At different points in the film, the painting is cinematically activated to emphasize its political messages, which are still relevant today. Read more about the mural.