Milano '83

Italian director Ermanno Olmi's valentine to his adopted city of Milan (1983, 62 min.) begins with a long scene of a Verdi opera being performed for the elite at La Scala, then moves into the streets where a maintenance crew is readying the piazza for a new day, right before Christmas. What follows is a series of impressionistic montages—snapshots of ordinary people, young and old; personal ads being read in a cacophony of voice-overs—that evokes the loneliness and impersonality of a metropolis teeming with alienated workers. Some of the sequences get tedious, but Olmi has deftly edited in time with his selections of opera, jazz, and pop. Also on the program is Tre fili fino a Milano (1958, 18 min.), one of the many documentaries Olmi made in the 50s while employed by the electric company Edison Volta. It's a simple visual poem that celebrates the hard work and joy of a crew putting up cables and electrical towers in the mountains. Both films are in Italian with subtitles.

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