Location shooting off of Sicily- the rocky Aeolian island
It was a landmark in 1960 and stands as one today (somewhat- we have the works of Ozu and others that eschew traditional Hollywood narratives and Ozu predates Antonioni– they just weren’t here in the west or that popular in 1960)—these are not singularly focused or driven characters—Cannes (where it was booed at first) award it the winner and said it was a “new language” for cinema. Characters that change, are indefinite, a continuation (and apex in many ways though I think many would argue each of his next 4 films are actually his best films which is a testament to the strength of his works) of Antonioni’s oeuvre- meditations on alienation and loneliness. Dissatisfaction in the wake of WWII and the modern world
The first leg of the unofficial “incommunicability trilogy”- la notte the following year and l’eclisse in 62’- an unbelievable achievement and prodigious achievement- those are consecutive years and these are highly detailed and exacting films.
A box office smash which is crazy to think about given the content and high style
For the score, director Michelangelo Antonioni asked Giovanni Fusco to compose “jazz as though it had been written in the Hellenic era.”
Monica Vitti (Antonioni’s great muse)- she’s the perfect vessel for Antonioni’s protagonists—her achievement here and in her four films with Antonioni (L’Avventura, La Notte, L’Eclisse, Red Desert) warrant historical consideration
Andrew Sarris- “every shot is the result of calculation of the highest order”
The characteristic Antonioni image is of two characters in the same frame not looking at each other
Great pairing with the other 1960 Italian cinematic landmark- Fellini’s La Dolce Vita– superficial empty people-
Ebert- “Aldo’s cinematography is haunting”
Deep film, shallow people
#2 film on the sight and sound top 10 list in 1962 which blows me away
We open on Lea Massari with her father—we end with Ferzetti and Vitti and the Massari strand is never answered for
Shots of Vitti in the open doorway. Vitti in space between curtains as she watches Massari and Ferzetti in bed together (a depth you only get with a second viewing).
Vitti’s high cheek bones- Jennifer Lawrence could be her daughter/twin
Much of the dialogue is purposefully innocuous and contradictory- that’s tough on audiences but it’s rewarding for students of cinema
Dialogue “I never understood islands- they’re surrounded by nothing but water the poor things”—a little on the nose but we have great architecture as character
Massari gone in 26 minutes (dueling 1960 protagonist disappearing act with Janet Leigh in Psycho)
She faked a shark sighting less than an hour before she disappearing- depth to this mystery
Antonioni picked not only the perfect lead (Vitti) but the perfect location for the story- it’s not a masterpiece if it’s not on this island
There are no answers- Massari leaves two books—one is “tender is the night” from Fitzgerald and one is the bible—could go either way
Not a ton of camera movement but when they have sex. Close-ups and the camera tracking from the alley- wonderful sequence
Adultery themes for Antonioni—alienation, contemptuous with the world
The finale- she finds him cheating and then we get a great shot of her and the old church in the background with the park bench- San Domenico palace
And the vertical lines breaking up the frames in the park bench perfect final shot
As much a narrative landmark as a stylistic one- influential on everyone from Bergman to Kubrick to Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation
[…] L’Avventura – Antonioni […]
I’d give 3 years of my life to go on a date with Monica Vitti circa 1960.
Obligatory post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YC2deYP2tsU
@Zane – Yep
@James Trapp- haha. this is the correct answer
What are some other movies with no resolution or a mystery that is never answered
A few off the top of my head…
The Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
The French Connection (1971)
Take your pick of almost any Michael Haneke film (Code Unknown, Cache, The White Ribbon…). Also Zodiac, which immediately leaps to mind since a friend of mine watched it tonight and told me they were disappointed by the ending haha.
Certainly Inception’s spinning top at the end is an unresolved mystery that is often debated. Zodiac and Mulholland Drive are two for which one could argue both for and against inclusion in your list. The Conversation leaves the question of whether or not they are actually spying on Harry unanswered.
Another is Last Year at Marienbad.
Declan mentioned Haneke so I can’t use it here. One film that would fit here is Burning, which most of us have already seen, and another two I saw recently we’re Hour of the Wolf and Solaris. I’ll try to see if I can think of more in the future.
@James Trapp @Declan @Zane and @Graham– great work! took most of my ideas here. I know I’m a sucker for this website but both of these are really solid http://www.tasteofcinema.com/2016/15-great-recent-movies-with-open-endings/ http://www.tasteofcinema.com/2015/the-20-best-ambiguous-movie-endings/
I tend to think of 400 Blows, The Graduate, No Country For Old Men and Lost in Translation first here actually. I remember being in the theater in 2003 for Sofia’s film and 2007 for No Country and the person I was sitting with in both cases was PISSED at the endings. haha.
I thought about mentioning In the Mood for Love myself, but didn’t include it because James was asking specifically in reference to unresolved mysteries, and that film doesn’t really have a mystery even if the plot doesn’t really have a resolution. I think it’s largely the same for what you’ve mentioned here though in terms of films that don’t resolve, these are great picks. I’d also mention Chinatown of course, probably the pinnacle in this regard. Persona from Bergman is another. And how could we all leave out Eyes Wide Shut of all films?
@Drake @Declan @Zane and @Graham – Lots of good picks, I know Zane and I had a back and forth about Burning (2018); man, that one really had me thinking about it for days afterward. White Ribbon as well. No Country (2007) I couldn’t believe there was no actual showdown between Tommy Lee Jones’ Sheriff and Anton Chigurh.
With a lot of these films you are annoyed with the ending at first but it lingers in your mind for days or even weeks. On in the case with The Shining (1980) my entire adult life haha
@James Trapp- this comment was 20 days ago now but I’d add Ari Aster’s films to this list- these are recent examples with sort of open (and very similar- which I adore as an auteur theory-supporter) endings
RIP to Monica Vitti. One of the best cinema ever had.
@Zane – Yes- good call. I saw this. 90 years old. Great actor.
Sad to see the icons all departing. Truly feels like the end of an era. RIP.
If you made a list of the best set pieces in all films you’ve ever seen, how high would the island rank? Top 10?
@Zane- Fun exercise- You should make a list. I did a quick search and did not find a good set piece list- I found “action set piece” but that’s about it.