Young Törless

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Young Törless
Young Torless poster.jpg
Directed byVolker Schlöndorff
Produced byFranz Seitz
Written byVolker Schlöndorff
Herbert Asmodi
Robert Musil (novel)
StarringMathieu Carrière
Marian Seidowsky
Bernd Tischer
Fred Dietz
Music byHans Werner Henze
CinematographyFranz Rath
Edited byClaus von Boro
Distributed byCine-International
Release date
  • 20 May 1966 (1966-05-20)
Running time
87 minutes
CountryWest Germany / France

Young Törless (German: Der junge Törless) is a 1966 German film directed by Volker Schlöndorff, adapted from the autobiographical novel The Confusions of Young Törless by Robert Musil. It deals with the violent, sadistic and homoerotic tendencies of a group of boys at an Austrian military academy at the beginning of the 20th century.


The story is set at the beginning of the 20th century. When Thomas Törless (Mathieu Carrière) arrives at the academy, he learns how Anselm von Basini (Marian Seidowsky) has been caught stealing by fellow student Reiting (Fred Dietz), and is obliged to become Reiting's "slave," bowing to Reiting's sadistic rituals. Törless follows their relationship with intellectual interest but without emotional involvement.

Also partaking in these sessions is Beineberg (Bernd Tischer), with whom Törless visits Bozena (Barbara Steele), the local prostitute. Again, Törless is aloof and more intrigued than excited by the woman.

He is however very eager to understand imaginary numbers, which are mentioned in his maths lesson. The maths teacher is unwilling or unable to explain what these are, stating that in life, emotion is what rules everything - even mathematics.

After Basini is humiliated and suspended upside down in the school gym because of one of Reiting's intrigues, Törless realises intellectually that the other boys are simply cruel. He seems no more or less emotionally moved by this than by the revelation that he cannot understand imaginary numbers. He decides that he does not want to partake in cruelty, so decides to leave the academy. His teachers think that he is too "highly strung" for his own good, and do not want him to stay anyway - they are part of the system which can allow such terrible things to be done to the weak and vulnerable.

At the end of the film Törless is dismissed from the school and leaves with his mother, smiling.



The film's significance as a cultural artifact of German post-World War II introspection is enhanced by the fact that its haunting medieval-sounding score is written by Hans Werner Henze, the noted German modernist composer. Henze, who came of age during the war, was prominent enough in this introspection by virtue of his left-political activism in the arts to feel driven to expatriation from Germany. Hans Werner Henze later arranged a suite from the original score, which was entitled Fantasia for Strings.


The film won the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival.[1] It was also selected as the German entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 39th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Young Törless". Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  2. ^ Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

External links[edit]