Director Ermanno Olmi / 1961 / Italy

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 sixteen, Domenico leaves his crowded parents' flat in a suburb of Milan, to look for his first job. Already Domenico has learnt to talk about security, the advantages of the big, solid Milan industrial concern where he goes for an interview. The interview and examinations are absurd but not daunting; Domenico and Antonietta, the girl he meets there, both expect to pass and do so: Antonietta gets a typist's job, Domenico is to work as a messenger-boy until a clerk's job turns up for him. Eventually one of the clerks dies and Domenico arrives with his armful of paper and clips and paste-pots; jealous of their rights, his fellow clerks move forward from the back of the room; and Domenico takes his seat at the back, secure now in his job.

II Posto is rueful and funny and honest; on the surface, mainly comedy, with tongue-in-the-cheek observations of the daily life of a large commercial organisation—the outsize department head whose tea must be ritually stirred by a motherly secretary, the gloriously pompous interviewers, the hilarious pathetic office New Year party. Beneath the comedy surface, the tone of the film is sad in its view of the goal—the job itself—and the circumscribed life it brings with it. The director makes no overt comment of his own, says nothing directly or obviously. He simply looks, scrupulously and affectionately, at the ways in which people conduct themselves. The film is unique, a gem of understatement. Olmi has combined the lightest of romantic elements with the underlying satire and its implicitly pessimistic conclusion. But few films have seemed less bitter about futility.

II Posto was shown at the Venice and London Film Festivals. It received the premier award of the British Film Institute.

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