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Young Torless (The Criterion Collection)
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Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
- 2004 video interview with writer-director Volker Schlondorff
- Rare presentation of the original score by acclaimed composer Hans Werner Henze, with a video introduction by Volker Schlondorff
- Original theatrical trailer
Top Customer Reviews
Schlendorf's film captures all of this. With one important caveat, it is an extremely faithful rendering of the novel and its spirit. The austere black and white photography, the faithfully sparse setting, the economical dialogue, strip the film to bare essentials: nothing distracts from its core. It is excellently acted. The caveat is sex.Read more ›
The story is simple: two cadets institute a gradually escalating campaign of humiliation and torture directed against another boy (Bassini, incidentally played by a Jewish actor), while Tőrless looks on, repulsed and yet on some level intrigued. The violence is real but not especially graphic (at least by contemporary standards). The real theme is Tőrless's incapacity to understand the torture on other than an abstract intellectual level -- like the mathematical imaginary numbers that are one of the movie's few strong metaphors.
This story became far more powerful after the Second World War. Volker Schlöndorff's black-and-white widescreen filming is extraordinarily bleak; the academy sits on an essentially featureless plain. The Criterion restoration is excellent; even the original score has been recovered.
Not everyone will respond to this film, I admit. But those who do are likely to find it impossible to forget.
The film opens at the Neudorf railway station where the parents of the young teenager Törless request that his peers will take good care of him. The parents' pleading for safety of their son becomes slightly overwhelming, yet it depicts how much they love their son. It is essential to understand how sheltered Törless has been while his parents have raised him. This illustrates how innocent Törless is to the cruelty of the world into which he soon is about to be initiated.
The group of teenagers that waived to Törless' parent returns to the small town, which gives further depiction of the teenager's socioeconomic standing in the society. They walk whereever they want without a care in the world, as if they owned the world. The teenagers visit a local inn where they buy wine and gamble without much consideration for the aftermath. Nothing seems to affect them, as they proceed to the military academy where they attend school to become people of high ranking in society.Read more ›
The DVD includes Schl�ndorff's discussion of composer Hans Werner Henze's film score. Using primitive instruments, it provides a stark and melancholy counterpoint to the scenes and images, and the DVD reproduces it as a single intact suite, which you can listen to separate from the film. In wide screen with easy-to-read English subtitles, it's a thoughtfully disturbing reminder of the deeply affecting films produced in Europe in the decades following WWII.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This poor story on film is an example of a "foreign film" which leaves me wondering, "What?!". The story is not interesting, except maybe for a glimpse into the lives of boys in... Read morePublished on July 28, 2010 by Rextrent
Early in the film, Torless' math teacher tells him everything comes down to feelings, even mathematics. Then two of Torless' friends start torturing Basini for stealing. Read morePublished on October 26, 2006 by thecableguy
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