When Ermanno Olmi’s The Tree of Wooden Clogs won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1978, many in Italy’s Leftist intellectual circles voiced their displeasure. They criticized Olmi’s epic, largely plotless depiction of Italy at the end of the 19th century for glorifying the existing system of production—quasi-feudal exploitation. In this project, I argue that this over-rehearsed, unspecific critique badly misunderstands the political nature of Olmi’s film. I first do this by pointing out where and how their imprecise critiques misread the specifics of his film. Then I propose that a more fruitful analysis should reconceive Wooden Clogs not as an ideological film but as a subversive work of translation. The text? History—with a big “H”. By focusing on the ultra-specific, Olmi seeks to translate History into history. He takes large, smoothed-over historical narratives (e.g. the Renaissance, the Risorgimento, socialist resistance, etc.) which promise a specific movement from past through present and into future and he stills them. This translation renders History unrecognizable, unassimilable, and spectacularly real. Finally, I argue that it is in this form—raw, unmarked, fecund—that history has the potential to be most subversive.