To Live Till You Die


This programme looks at two extreme points of view concerning old age: that of Sweden and that of Italy




written, narrated and produced for intertel
by j. c. sheers

director: robert morgan


This programme looks at two extreme points of view concerning old age: that of Sweden and that of Italy. In Sweden, the aged are a social problem: but in Lucania, Italy, for example, old age is an honourable estate. The programme looks at the lives of two old people, one Swedish and one Italian.


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In the programme’s opening, narrator J. C. Sheers, who also wrote the programme, observes that one out of a hundred persons in western nations is old and needs help. Unless the old have great savings or can depend on relatives, they face spending the rest of their years in a modern version of an elderly home. Sweden’s programme, where the biggest tax share goes to support the aged, may become the example western nations will follow. The aged are a social problem in Sweden, Sheers observes. But in Lucania, Italy, old age is an honourable estate.

“To Live Till You Die” looks at two extreme points of view concerning the aged. The programme poignantly evokes these sharply defined attitudes as Intertel cameras capture the subtle and dramatic counterpoint in the lives of Olivia Goransson of Sweden and Minguiccio Filazzola of Lucania, Italy. The transition Olivia Goransson makes from her life of solitude to a nearby government home typifies the trials of adjustment for many of the aged. For 55 years she lived in one room containing bare necessities — among them a lamp, one electric outlet, a single cold water tap, and a wood stove. For her, old age has meant survival. Retired at 67, the 83-year-old woman now draws a government and job pension. The only break in her uneventful existence is a weekly chat over a cup of coffee with Mrs. Karlsson, a volunteer home care worker.

After three years of waiting — for Sweden lacks enough homes for the aged — her application to live in a government home becomes a reality. Taking her treasured belongings, Olivia Goransson begins readjustment in her new home at nearby Bromma. Typical of most Swedish government institutions, the home is administered by registered nurses, provides services ranging from foot care and handicrafts to weaving and carpentry, blends modern and traditional furniture and features beds specifically designed for the elderly. Her ordeal of “fitting in” is heightened as she relearns the social graces at mealtime with fellow residents.

In Minguiccio Filazzola’s family of three generations, he is at the crown of life. He is the head of a communal group where the women bake and sew, the men farm the land, and all work for all. He asserts his seniority in every phase of life, from arranging a marriage to buying a mule. Minguiccio’s independence and supremacy are humorously conveyed in a sequence where he dictates the strategy in bargaining for a mule — a big investment for anyone in Lucania. For his family, mealtime is a warm social occasion, where problems are attacked with gusto. Minguiccio also must face an adjustment.

Minguiccio Filazzola (second from right) head of the Filazzola family, bargains over the sale of a horse.

After weeks of discussion, he finally gives his blessings to his son Domenico, who wants to emigrate to Canada. His son’s desire, in a sense, begins the end of an old world remnant which demands respect for the aged.

The International Television Federation (Intertel for short), a project for international understanding through television, was founded in 1960. It aims to achieve a world-wide audience for high-quality information programmes. Rediffusion Television Limited is the British member, with Canada represented by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the United States by National Educational Television and the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company.

The Filazzola Familty.


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