A little known masterpiece and Olmi's first feature, the film takes place in the snowy mountains of northern Italy, where a tough old-timer of a guard and a fresh-faced young student keep watch over the construction site of a partially built dam during the winter. Forced to live at close quarters in a tiny workers' shed and cut off from the world below with little to do, the ill-matched couple are at first taciturn and mutually suspicious. When a sudden snow storm cuts their power supply and threatens to demolish their rickety wooden hut, they find themselves thrown together in a fight for survival. Shot in wide-screen black and white, with hilarious visual gags and spare but amusing dialogue, the film develops into a moving testament to the common humanity bridging the generations.
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