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Film / Il posto

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Il Posto ("The Place"...not The Place but a job placement) is a 1961 film from Italy directed by Ermanno Olmi.

The story follows Domenico, a young man (very young, he doesn't look much more than 16) living in a run-down suburb of Milan. As the film opens, he goes downtown to get an office job that his parents are pushing him to take. After a series of vaguely embarrassing interviews and exams, he gets a menial, entry-level job, at a company so generic that the movie never says what the company makes or does.

Decades of office drudgery and wage slavery loom, but there's one ray of sunshine amidst the gloom. A pretty girl named Antonietta shows up at the job application process along with Domenico. They take the tests together and have coffee for lunch. After the both of them get hired, Domenico keeps an eye out for Antonietta, hoping for romance.



  • Call-Back
    • The A Day in the Limelight sequence has one of the office workers singing opera in a club after work. At the New Year's party at the end, he tries to get the band to play the theme from Otello so he can sing, but it's not a New Year's party song and the band refuses.
    • Another office drone is shown scribbling a novel in his room at night. After he kills himself, his supervisor cleans out his desk and is puzzled to find a manuscript. ("Chapter 19?")
  • Coming of Age Story: A rather melancholy tale of a young man starting out in adulthood, doomed to be an office drone.
  • Creepy Physical: The job applicants are subjected to not just aptitude tests but physical and psychological exams that are subtly dehumanizing. They are asked to do knee bends, with the women facing away from the doctor to avoid Panty Shots. They have to twirl their wrists. One older, balding, presumably desperate applicant is taken out of line and subject to a hearing test in full view of the younger applicants (he fails, and is not seen again). Domenico has to answer a battery of psychological questions like "did you ever wet the bed between the ages of 8 and 14?"
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  • Cutaway Gag: Domenico is sitting at a table at the New Year's party, looking morose, holding a glass of champagne. Another guest says "Go on, drink, it will cheer you up!" Cut to Domenico dancing in the middle of a conga line.
  • A Day in the Limelight: A short section of the film leaves Domenico behind to follow some of the other office drones that he works with. One of the older men is trying to write a novel in the shabby room that he goes to at night. Another's wife gives him a shave. Another likes to go to nightclubs and sing arias from operas.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Antoinetta does not show up for the New Year's party, leaving Domenico depressed and dateless, and then the film ends.
  • Downer Ending: Domenico gets placed at a desk in the front, only to be told that he isn't senior enough to get that desk. So he gets put in a desk in the back corner, discovering in the process that he'll spend decades at that corporation only to move three desks forward in the same office. The film ends with Domenico's Thousand-Yard Stare as the sound of a copier goes thunk-thunk-thunk on the soundtrack.
  • Driven to Suicide: It is implied that the one gray-haired worker, the old man who dabbles at writing a novel at night, has killed himself. There are shots of his empty room as the manager cleans out his desk and removes his meager possessions, sorting out whatever belongs to the company.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: The ending has Domenico getting stuck on a desk in the corner of the office. The desk lamp in his face bothers him, so he turns it away, leaving his face in shadow as the film comes to a melancholy end.
  • Job Mindset Inertia: A retiree is so conditioned to coming into the office every day that he still comes into the office, even though he no longer has a job, and sits around.
  • Job Title: "Il posto" translates out directly as "the place" but in this context is more idiomatically translated as "the job". The generic movie title fits the generic nature of the company that hires Domenico (what do they do?) and the general sense of drudgery and ennui.
  • New Year Has Come: The film ends with a New Year's party for employees. Domenico is disappointed when Antoinietta does not show up.
  • Slice of Life: A young man leaves school behind and takes up a sure to be disappointing career as an office worker.
  • Soul-Crushing Desk Job: Corporate drudgery. The messenger sits in a waiting room barely big enough for his desk, and puts up postcards from other people's vacations to look at. A retiree is so conditioned to office work that, three months after his retirement, he still comes into the office and just sits around all day. Another worker kills himself. Domenico is left with a Thousand-Yard Stare as he contemplates his future.
  • Standard Office Setting: A generic office in a generic company that does...something, no doubt.
  • Tragic Dropout: It's implied that Domenico quits school and goes to work in the office against his will. He is annoyed when his younger brother, who is still going to school, gets the book strap that Domenico used for his school books. He gives a Longing Look at a group of teenagers going to school. At one point he mentions that he wanted to be a surveyor. (It seems that Domenico is being forced to go to work to support his family.)