Ermanno Olmi’s sophomore feature Il Posto plays this month on Turner Classic Movies. I contributed the following essay to the website.
While filmmakers like Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti were leaving behind their neorealist roots in the 1960s, young directors were refreshing the tradition with their own perspectives and passions. Ermanno Olmi was one of the most important and expressive filmmakers of this new wave of post neo-realist cinema and Il Posto (1961), his second feature, announced his arrival.
The story of a young man with “the chance of a lifetime” to land a white collar job with a faceless corporation in Milan, the financial and industrial capital of Italy, casts a dubious eye on this Italian dream of success with a mix of poetic realism, documentary naturalism and social commentary. Sandro Panseri, a non-professional with an open, boyish face and a wide-eyed expression, is the provincial young hero Domenico, the eldest son in a working class family living in a small town on the outskirts of Milan. He’s only a commuter train from the city but it’s like another world when he arrives; he’s nervous and overwhelmed by the bustling urban world and passively going through the motions of the almost surreal testing process before taking his place as an apathetic cog in the impersonal culture.
Plays Sunday January 23 on Turner Classic Movies. Also available on DVD in a lovely Criterion edition.