This is one of those great foreign films from the 60's. The plot synopsis may make it sound dismal, but on the contrary it is full of heart and humor. These are real people, with all their quirks and stupidities and rich relationships with one another. There is an accurate, full portrayal of the human condition, and an acceptance of what that means, that is rare to non-existent in movies today.
If you like films that put you into another world for a couple of hours, you've got to see this. The late 19th century Northern Italy textile factory is amazingly realized. The black & white cinematography is gorgeous, and the acting is convincing all around.
Mastroianni is a personal favorite, and this is a terrific role for him: very unlike his usual suave, modern, urban characters.
This film is a masterpiece. It's a shame it is not out on DVD.