Director: Volker Schlöndorff
This faithful screen version of Robert Musil's well-known novel is a major work of the new German cinema. Set in a remote Austrian boarding school before the First World War. the story centres on one of the pupils. Törless—handsome, vain, detached. When he arrives at the school, he adopts an attitude of philosophical objectivity, accepting life as an abstract force over which he has no control. A student steals some money from another, and is discovered by two senior students who subsequently blackmail and sadistically torture him. Törless finds himself part of this ritual, and his solution to the problem of his inaction becomes the dramatic conflict of the story. The central theme of the film then emerges: the domination of the strong over the weak—man over man—man over group—group over nation.
F.I.P.R.E.S.C.I Award, Cannes.
Schlöndorff, one time assistant to Malle and Resnais, uses a stark, almost documentary approach to the world of Törless. The boys in the cast are all non-professional actors who are faithful personifications of the types in the book. Matthieu Carriere, as Törless, gives a magnificant portrayal of Musil's central character.