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THE ENGAGEMENT

Italy, 1963 (MIFF 1965)

Director: Ermanno Olmi

The film opens with solemn couples ambling into a shabby suburban dance-hall near Milan. A blind pianist and an accordionist arrive, tune up, and the evening begins. Giovanni, a recently qualified welder, is tensely quarrelling with his fiancee, Liliana. He has been asked to transfer, at an attractive salary, to a new plant which his firm has recently opened in Sicily: she cannot accept the long separation involved. After an estrangement, during which Giovanni successfully mates overtures to another attractive woman, be makes his decision and accepts promotion. It is some time before the couple is reunited, but their relationship during separation achieves a new maturity.

Ermanno Olmi's new film shows that 11 Posto was not just a flash in the pan — The Engagement is a fascinating work. Though the story is simple, its conception is complex. Abandoning traditional narra­tive treatment Olmi moves with absolute freedom in the time/space territory formerly explored only by Alain Resnais. The film seems to be set in an eternal present, alternating between Giovanni's exile in Sicily and Liliana's long wait in the North. The director has combined a documentary on the new Sicily with a warm perceptive examination of his two leading characters. Olmi here is once again concerned, as in his earlier films, with the impor­tance lo ordinary people of the way they earn their living and the crucial effect it has on their lives.

OiCJ.C Prize. Cannes Festival.

See also...

DON'T TOUCH THE AXE

France, Italy, 2007
"A masterpiece... ‘cruel ironies' doesn't even begin to describe it." - Time Out London ... The latest in Jacques Rivette's series of adaptations of Honore de Balzac's work is a dramatisation of La… More »

IL POSTO

Italy, 1961
Made by a young Italian director with a cast of non-professional actors, Il Posto concentrates on revealing its characters during a significant period of their lives. The story is very simple. Aged s… More »

DURING THE SUMMER

Italy, 1970
As in all his films, Olmi's interest is in ordinary people, and he observes them with equal sympathy and understanding. ... In During the Summer, the central character is a professor (we are not told… More »

IL POSTO

Italy, 1961
Made by a young Italian director with a cast of non-professional actors. // Posto concentrates on revealing its characters during a significant period of their lives. The story is very simple. Aged s… More »

THE CIRCUMSTANCE

Italy, 1974
Ermanno Olmi wrote, edited and directed this film about the problems of an upper middle class family. The husband, who is middie-aged. appears likely to lose his job as the company he works for strea… More »

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