American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
If memory serves, a man was telling me on the radio the other day that "The Christmas Tree" is a movie about a real family doing real things. And so it is.
The real father, William Holden, is a typical millionaire industrialist and a veteran of World War II commando raids behind enemy lines. His real son (whose voice is a ringer for Judy Garland's in "The Wizard of Oz") is one of your typical 10-year-olds who is exposed to radiation when an H-bomb falls, out of the sky near Corsica.
The real family doesn't have a real mother, alas, but the real father's mistress is Virna Lisi, who is a typical art designer for Paris-Match and motors up to the family's typical real castle (they only inhabit six or seven rooms, haven't counted the rest) for a typical family weekend.
Now, then. What sorts of real things does this typical family do during its slice-of-life existence? Well, when it turns out the kid has six months to live, the father takes him to the castle where there's fresh air and spring water and buys him a Ford tractor to drive around the grounds. But the poor, courageous little tyke still has one unsatisfied yearning. He wants a wolf. Wolves are hard to find, darn it, and so his father and the family servant steal a couple during a night raid on the zoo.