||Characters in Search of a Soul...
Viewing Michelangelo's "L'Avventura" for the first time represented quite a turning point in my film education. It spoke to me in a way that no film had previously. I couldn't explain or understand my emotional response but I was aware of the films grandeur. It left an authoritative dent, lingering with an essence of nobility. For days after my initial viewing, everything felt "profound". It collapsed my expected narrative designs to such a degree that I could easily understand fellow film enthusiasts being agitated at the unnerving displacement. On the surface, it shows itself as a film that surrounds its first half in mystery only to drift aimlessly away on a floating sea of unresolved conclusions. But there is so much more.
Upon deeper analysis (of which this film begs) we see that almost every detail of the plot, surrounding landscape and passive dialogue relate heavily to the characters identities and inner most feelings... their metaphysical world. If you hear the name Andrei Tarkovsky being uttered in comparison, it would be apt. With his picture perfect compositions Antonioni's films have more in connection with art than most other cinema.
by Michelangelo Antonioni
Review of the film and Criterion DVD by Gary W. Tooze
|As L'avventura opens we are greeted by
Anna (Lea Massari), a jaded,
spoiled socialite about to indifferently embark on a ship excursion with
her girlfriend Claudia (Monica Vitti) and boyfriend Sandro
(Gabriele Ferzetti) with whom she is in a long distance relationship. Her blasι
attitude is initially acceptable as we do not yet know her complete story.
After some disenchanted lovemaking with Sandro, her pain is expressed to
be their lack of togetherness and indecision as to the direction of the relationship.
On the boat excursion, while anchored to swim near a barren volcanic island, Anna feigns seeing shark. She soon reveals to Claudia that she lied and for no other purpose than succumbing to a fit of boredom. For their apathy, we are gaining the sense that all of these characters on the trip could be dubbed "the idle rich". They show little to no interest in what each other communicates. As well as opening a window on this surfeit class, each object of the landscape is clearly portrayed, and forms its own separate defined area within the screen. Antonioni's flawless framing makes it all so beautiful, making our job of interpretation that much more distracting.
While touring the picturesque island with its Aeolian charm, Anna goes missing. We never know why and there is no direct evidence supporting any conclusions, but the aura of mystery is in the air. The initial concern for her soon dissolves and Sandro and Claudia begin an affair. It becomes hard to accept that these young, attractive and wealthy characters are so self-absorbed when we are used to gorgeous movie stars being the noble protagonists . As Antonioni states "I prefer to set my heroes in a rich environment because then their feelings are not determined by material and practical contingencies." In fact, there are no ' heroes' in this film, but the point is made that they have no mitigating factors to encourage their selfish behavior. Their foibles are bred through wealthy meaninglessness, not usual neo-realistic poverty and despair. In essence, these characters have nothing to overcome... no abject hardships to suppress or hurdles to leap. Because of this, we discern Claudia and Sandro's behavior that much more abhorrent in our eyes. The characters alligator tears and bluffed investigations of Anna's disappearance become an inquisition of who we are... our own superficialities become transparent and it is the viewer who is redeemed for reaching this conclusion. Antonioni's hidden skill in manipulating time and space while expressing the concealed undercurrents of his characters depths becomes rewarding to those who are cognizant of it. His images are more adept at conveying this meaningful experience than any script could have.
Lets step back. This film is not for everyone. You have to settle in a certain mindset to reach my proposed conclusions. If you do, it can be an eye-opener, if you don't it can be an eye-closer ("zzzzzzz"). I certainly don't always come to the correct inference, and still struggle to see the meaning in Godard or Hou, but this film was a revelation for me. Doing research I was not surprised to see it 2nd only to "Citizen Kane" in the 1962 Sight and Sound Poll, remaining in the Top 10 list until 1992! It is comforting to see that Antonioni is viewed as a pioneer and revolutionary in the language of cinema. Initially L'avventura was hissed at its Cannes premiere, but who, offering the masses something refreshing, is not condemned by the occasional philistine. For its beauty, language, uniqueness and pure compositions it deserves all its accolades... and more. out of .
|To put it bluntly, this DVD is perfect. Perfect Film. Perfect image and sound. Perfect extras, including a 58 minute documentary and commentary. I don't see any point in dredging up any minutia about an inconsistency here or technical fault there... simply because there are none worthy of speaking of. It would be an insult to the excellent detail that the Criterion company have put into this DVD to get anal about its outstanding quality. Liberate your expectations and see the heights of which this new medium is capable of ascending. Just buy it before it goes "Out of Print". Now. Right now. out of|
|Full Cast and Crew for
Avventura, L' (1960)
Michelangelo Antonioni (also story)
Cast (in credits order) verified as complete
Gabriele Ferzetti .... Sandro
Monica Vitti .... Claudia
Lea Massari .... Anna
Dominique Blanchar .... Giulia
Renzo Ricci .... Anna's Father
James Addams (I) .... Corrado
Dorothy De Poliolo .... Gloria Perkins
Lelio Luttazzi .... Raimondo
Giovanni Petrucci .... Prince Goffredo
Esmeralda Ruspoli .... Patrizia
Jack O'Connell (III) .... Old man on the island
Angela Tommasi Di Lampedusa .... The Princess
Prof. Cucco .... Ettore
Cino Del Duca .... producer
Raymond Hakim .... producer
Robert Hakim .... producer
Amato Pennasilico .... producer
Luciano Perugia .... producer
Original music by
Film Editing by
Eraldo Da Roma
Production Design by
Costume Design by
Mario Mandini .... hair stylist
Ultimo Peruzzi .... makeup artist
Enrico Bologna .... production supervisor
Fernando Cinquini .... production supervisor
Angelo Corso .... general manager
Luciano Perugia .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Gianni Arduini .... assistant director
Franco Indovina .... assistant director
Fausto Ancillai .... sound mixer
Claudio Maielli .... sound
Nino Renda .... sound mixer
Enrico Appetito .... still photographer
Elvira D'Amico .... script supervisor
Giovanni Fusco .... conductor
Luigi Kuveiller .... camera operator
Jack O'Connell (III) .... special assistant to director