Il Posto          Ermanno Olmi          1961

(That first word in the Italian title is of course a capital I [eye]  followed by a lower case l [ell].  The Italian word for the looks strange as it comes off today’s keyboard.)

Leonard Maltin says it better than I can:  “…portrayal of everyday life with its tiny triumphs and failures…the beauty of the film is in the loving and perceptive observation of human behavior.”

Il Posto is Italian for The Job.  It concerns a very young man (late teens) getting his first job and meeting a girl he likes.  It is all glowingly, hopelessly real, including the saddest New Year’s Eve party in the history of humankind.

As Domenico, Sandro Panseri is outstanding.  According to imdb this was his first film and he made only two more.  Their last word on him was that he was manager of a supermarket in Milan.  What role might director and editor have played in the performance here?  There is not a false note or wrong move.

This film comes well after the heyday of neorealism, but it is a MUST.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *


Young Törless          Volker Schlöndorff          1966
(Der junge Tôrless)
(from a novel by Robert Musil)

At first blush  —  though there are none in this film  —  the story appears an unoriginal one about horny adolescents in an all-male school.  This one’s in Germany, and the lads are in uniform.  The date is indeterminate, but the carriages are horseless and the women’s dresses floor-length.  However, the boys’ interest in obscene pictures and their visits to the local whore are treated asd natural and to be expected.

The bullies in the school are making every day miserable for Basini who stole money from one of their lockers.  They eventually turn the entire student body against him —  except for Tõrless who is relatively unfeeling.  But Törless thinks.  He thinks about philosophical questions like good and evil, and punishment, and suffering.

Young Tõrless is distinguished by characterizations which distance us in a manner unusual for this kind of tale.  The victim is quite unlikeable.  When the whole gang of students are tearing off Basini’s clothes and hanfing him from the rings in the gym, we are appalled by what a mob is doing to a person rather than sentimentally concerned for Basini.

Törless isn’t that likeable either.  This seems to help us really listen to his debates with himself about human choices.  When he explains his thinking to the assembled faculty and trustees, intent on expelling him, these adults fail utterly to grasp his moral conundrum.  They are only anxious to rid themselves of a problem student.

As Törless stands before them and them and before the camera, in Germany, he comes across as predciting how a nation might choose evil.


Until then,
See you at the movies,

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