Le Quattro Volte is a piece of slow cinema, a poem rather than a play. It is set in a remote village in southern Italy. The four times, or four turns, is a reference to the Pythagorean idea of metempsychosis and the cycle of four phases of life at different levels: human, animal, plant and earth.

The human segment follows an old goat-herd as he tends his flock in the mountains by day and then follows them back to their enclosure at night. He is old and sick. An accident breaks the goat’s enclosure, and as we follow them through the town we find the goat-herd dead in his bed.

The transitions between segments are marked by fades to black. We hear before we see the animal segment beginning with the birth of a goat. This is larger scale goat farming and the goats are led out into the hills rather than followed, so that strays are not noticed. The kid, its legs tied together, cannot jump out of a ditch, and becomes separated and lost. It lies down to die under a tree.