In a text accompanying One Hundred Nails, Ermanno Olmi announced that this film would be his last narrative production. After this he will restrict himself to making documentaries. The announcement does add a certain weight to the film, that itself already comprises enough statements.
Olmi's last story is about a young promising professor at the University of Bologna, who is indicted for an offence that is regarded by the church and the university as serious blasphemy. The suspect professor burns his boats behind him and withdraws to a ruin by the River Po, where he comes into contact with the simple yet honest local population that also has an insecure position in society. A friendship unfolds that leaves any professional collegiality behind: Love defeats the written word.
Olmi constructs his story, larded with religious references, using atmospheric images and restraint acting. The dividing line between fantasy and reality is thin and this means that imagination gains freedom and scale. It is this imagination that the director wants to stress as an inner force in every person that cannot be described in any book.
IFF Rotterdam 2008
Ermanno Olmi was born in 1931 in Bergamo. After World War Two he worked for the Edison Volta electricity company, about which he made some forty documentaries. In 1959 he was able to make his first feature with the financial aid of Edison Volta. In 1978 he won the Golden Palm for The Tree of Wooden Clogs. Since then he has made over ten features, many on biblical subjects.
1958 Il Tempo si è fermato / Time Stood Still
1961 Posada / Il Posto / The Job
1962 Narzeczeni / I Fidanzati / The Fiances
1965 I przyszedł człowiek / E venne u uomo / And There Came a Man
1968 Fatalny dzień / Un Certo giorno / One Fine Day
1969 Zbieracze / I Recuperanti / The Scavengers
1978 Drzewo na saboty / L'Albero degli zoccoli / The Tree With Wooden Clogs
1988 Legenda o świętym pijaku / La Leggenda del santo bevitore / The Legend of the Holy Drinker
1993 Tajemnica starego lasu / Il Segreto del bosco vecchio / The Secret of Old Woods
2001 Rzemiosło wojenne / Il Mestiere delle armi / The Profession of Arms
2003 Śpiewając za parawanami / Cantando dietro i paraventi / Singing Behind Screens
2004 Bilety / Tickets (współreż. / co-dir.)
2007 Sto gwoździ / Centochiodi / One Hundred Nails