The Scavengers

After World War II an Italian soldier returns to his hometown near the Alps and, unable to find a job, hooks up with a crotchety hermit who scavenges buried shells and bombs for scrap metal. Ermanno Olmi (Il posto) directed and cowrote this 1969 television drama, contrasting the fragile hope of the young man, who wants nothing more than a return to a normal life, with the world-weariness of the old one, who's witnessed his share of carnage. Their give-and-take—epitomized by their disagreement over whether to trust the old man's experience or to use a metal detector—is the heart of the film, whose tone alternates between despair and whimsy. In Italian with subtitles. 97 min.

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