Ermanno Olmi

"If the first influences on Olmi were neo-realist, he managed to absorb the least melodramatic qualities of this movement. There is no hint of the overt sentimentality, the faint condescension which sometimes mars the neo-realist discovery of the working class, and though Olmi finds plenty of humour in his situations it is never cruel nor at the expense of his characters." - Gavin Millar (Cinema: A Critical Dictionary, 1980)

Ermanno Olmi

Director / Screenwriter / Editor / Cinematographer
(1931-2018) Born July 24, Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Countries: Italy, France
Key Genres: Drama, Psychological Drama, War Drama, Rural Drama, Documentary, Family Drama
Key Collaborators: Paolo Cottignola (Editor), Luigi Musini (Producer), Fabio Olmi (Cinematographer/Editor), Roberto Cicutto (Producer), Lamberto Caimi (Cinematographer), Camillo Grassi (Leading Actor), Carla Colombo (Editor), Fabio Vacchi (Composer), Luigi Marchione (Production Designer), Ettore Lombardi (Production Designer), Giuseppe Pirrotta (Production Designer)

"Olmi is a director in a reticent, elliptical, and detached vein that is not characteristically Italian. Equally, it is not easy to fix him in neo-realism, despite his preference for real settings, ordinary people, and slight plots. Although he has professed a debt to de Sica, his near-mystical tenderness for people is more impressive than de Sica's sentiment, and the most intriguing element in his films seems closer to the abstracting eye of an Antonioni." - David Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2010)
“This Italian director's beginnings as a clerk, and his background in industrial documentaries, almost inexorably led him to make perceptive and caring films about the lives of ordinary working people... Olmi made his name with his second feature film, Il Posto, a beautiful, gently observed piece in which, as in all his pictures, Olmi lets his camera adopt the role of a silent spectator, observing from a distance the little human dramas that unfold.” - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Film Directors, 1999)
"Like Pasolini, Rosi, and Bertolucci, Olmi is a filmmaker nurtured by postwar neorealism. Like his great precursors, Rossellini, De Sica, and Visconti, he has worked extensively with amateur actors, chosen simplified naturalistic settings, eschewed elaborate artifices or light- ing, and employed an ascetic camera style. What mobility his camera has comes largely from his extensive use of the zoom lens. In contrast, however, to the first generation of neorealists, he has a high tolerance for abstraction and ambiguity in his storytelling. Dramatic and emotional moments are consistently understated." - P. Adams Sitney (The St. James Film Directors Encyclopedia, 1998)
“Although he later worked with bigger budgets and broader themes, Olmi remained rooted in the regional heritage of his Lombardian hometown of Bergamo. Thematically and stylistically, he acknowledged a debt to the postwar neorealists, particularly Vittorio De Sica. Like them, he prefers unadorned camera techniques and the employment of nonprofessional actors. He shares their concern for the human dignity of ordinary people, but has expressed it in less obvious, more ambiguous terms.” - The Film Encyclopedia, 2012
"A largely unheralded director, Olmi's simple technical style and concern for the issues facing working people have made his films poetic insights into human strength and integrity." - Phil Pantone (The Virgin International Encyclopedia of Film, 1992)
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
Il Posto (1961)
Recommended
I Fidanzati (1963) , The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978)
Worth a Look
One Fine Day (1968), The Legend of the Holy Drinker (1988), The Profession of Arms (2001) , Singing Behind Screens (2003), Tickets (2005) [also directed by Abbas Kiarostami & Ken Loach], One Hundred Nails (2007), Torneranno i prati (2014)
Approach with Caution
Genesis: The Creation and the Flood (1994)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films Martin Scorsese
Ermanno Olmi / Fan Club
Steven Gaydos, Mike Leigh, Chris Fujiwara, Filipe Furtado, Adriano Aprà, Martin Scorsese, Michał Oleszczyk, Charles Burnett, Ken Loach.
I Fidanzati
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