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L’avventura (1960) – Michelangelo Antonioni - Final Scene

L’Avventura (1960) – Michelangelo Antonioni

Italy, 1960, 143 minutes, Black & White, 2:23:00, Italian.

Congratulations to me for having being seen my first Monica Vitti movie… Almost 2 decades after Gabriel Moked used to speak about those incomprehensible films of Michelangelo Antonioni, in which Monica Vitti always sat on a sofa, a misunderstanding that was very badly received by his second wife Daniela Shemi and I think also by his first one, Ofra Shunit (they were friends)… probably it all got mixed up in my head, like in the movie… 20 years… go figure… Anyway, this is not my Antonioni debut. The first one was Blowup (1966), but it was an English speaking movie taking place in London, so maybe it doesn’t count. Nevertheless I do think Blowup is much more mature than this one, although François Truffaut would have probably taken it the other way around. Nevertheless 2, this is another Sight and Sound’s 10 Greatest Films Of All Time list entry. And it supposed to be existential. I recognize here the Albert Camus’s Don Juanism (as portrayed in The Myth of Sisyphus, 1942) in the character of the fiancé of the missing young woman, that quickly moves on to her best friend and then to the luxury escort-girl in the hotel only to get back to the forgiving Claudia, i.e. Monica Vitti, i.e. the best friend. She isn’t the leading lady at the beginning of the film. Anna is. But then she disappeared. And life goes on. Only Claudia tries to fight the emptiness. For example, that of the rocky bare volcanic island Anna went missing on. She is repeatedly saying she needs things to be clear. Roger Ebert has argued that the disappearance of Anna is a metaphor for the void in which all the characters in the movie indulged and practically drown and disappeared in.[1] Seemingly indifferent and undisturbed, they continue with their hedonistic and empty lives as if nothing had happened. Even the arrival of the (supposed to be grieving or at least extremely worried) father of Anna is a kind of a spectacle, having been arriving on board of an over the top luxurious hydrofoil, and you really can’t decide whether its science fiction nature blends with the bleak exposed raw island or stands against it. At times one may feel something horrible is about to happened, an unnatural event maybe, be it in those otherworldly uninhabited islands, in the newly-built modern-looking deserted town stranger in style to the Italian Palermo decorative nature of the buildings elsewhere, it becomes ever stranger when we realize it reflects the cemetery seen from a distance, firstly mistaken by our wandering tortured couple for an adjacent town. And the inhabited, although sumptuous and lavish, always looks old and broken. The princess palazzo or the hotel at the end of the movie. The final scene in which Mount Athena looks over our heroes, also concludes that destiny is deceiving and mankind is small and helpless against the mighty landscape. This seemingly serene scene epitomized this evasive uncanny concept of gothic sublime.

I like this Flâneur movie that has no real plot. Like a mental wandering, slow and penetrating. Still waters run deep. But it is hard to accept that, against the Don Juan man, there is a woman who keeps getting back to him, even when she feels she is betraying her best friend, who went missing only 3 days before, even when he cheated on her, on every of the thousand times or so he swore he loved her, asking her to marry him on far too many occasions. The Don Juan can’t stop. Anna’s father at the opening scene tells her this man won’t marry her. No, she replies, she won’t marry him. Maybe she left because he needed to break free from a woman having the same cynics Don Juan nature as he does, looking for the holy virgin that still looks for a meaning in a meaningless world. And, regardless, I miss the days when hotel guests used to dress up for dinner, when people used to dress nice. Period. All day long. How the hell did they manage to carry themselves all day long on those impossible stilettos? My mother never understood those films in which the heroine went to bed in full makeup only to wake up with her makeup intact. Do you think it means something, their entanglement with the ropes of the church bells, there on the roof? Those bells, their clinking is echoed, answered by bells of nearby campanile. It alludes Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960) where the hero, Marcelo, is torn up between being moral and surrender to money, to life of meaningless indulgent. This architect, the Don Juan Sandro may also alludes Howard Roark of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead (1943), being his cynical counterpart in a world money buys nothing. Maybe also the Writer from Tarkovsky’s Stalker. I haven’t decided yet if this should indeed enter the first ten list and I might have had more things to say about it, but let’s stop here… and indeed there were sofas here…

[1] Ebert, Roger (19 January 1997). “L’Avventura (1960)”Chicago Sun-Times.

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