An adaptation of Robert Musil's novel (written in 1906) about schoolboy sadism in turn-of-the-century Germany, notable for its stylish period evocation. As young Törless arrives at school, a new senior pupil shepherded by a fond mamma, he looks a likely candidate for persecution. As it turns out, another boy (Seidowsky) - a Jew, as it happens - becomes the victim after being caught stealing; and Törless watches with clinical interest as the hapless boy is driven to despair by fiendish tortures and humiliations. Only an accidental encounter during the holidays makes Törless realise that this is, after all, happening to a human being; he duly brings it to the attention of the school authorities as a matter of moral obligation, but remains chiefly concerned with justifying his position as an intellectual observer. Beautifully acted, this bitter little anecdote is all the better in that Schlöndorff, sticking to the disturbing rites and mercurial friendships of the boarding-school world, resists the temptation to dress up its prophetic intimations of Nazism.
Cast and crew