Young Törless : Summary

Length: 87 Min. Format: 35mm b/w

Premiere: 09.05.1966, Cannes, IFF (FBW "especially valuable"); German Premiere: 20.05.1966, Lübeck

German Film Prize 1966 Film Ribbon in Gold (Direction, Screenplay, Production)
IFF Cannes 1966 FIPRESCI Prize
Nantes 1966 Prix Max Ophüls
IFF San Francisco 1966 Golden Gate Award

Törless (Matthieu Carrière) is a pupil in an ancient and remote boarding school in Austria-Hungary, shortly before the First World War at the beginning of the 20th century. The school class has developed into a kind of small society with a well-developed ruling clique. Törless is an individualist who finds it difficult to fit into this society - yet he is generally respected. One day he finds out that money has been stolen from one of the boys. Soon after, the thief, Basini (Marian Seidowsky), who is another schoolboy, is caught, and almost by coincidence, Törless finds himself taking part in the class's mock trial. The leaders of the class make use of Basini's petty crime to blackmail him and to use him as a slave, trying out their obscure theories of life on him. Their supposedly intellectual experiments result in almost sadistic excesses. Törless watches the distribution of power between these young men and their slave and the behaviour of the rest of the class, who follow the whole proceedings as if they were the Chorus in a Greek tragedy. What Törless sees awakens in him a feeling of moral obligation. He advises Basini to turn himself in. In this way, the matter is brought to the attention of the school authorities. Törless tries to justify himself to his teachers, but they find it difficult to comprehend his explanations. He leaves the boarding school, proud of his realizations, in fact, he is already on the way to becoming a man without distinction.