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Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
Produced in 1960
Main Language - Italian with English subtitles
The film that revealed Antonioni to the world. A group of Roman socialites is on a cruise off the coast of Sicily when one of their number (Anna, played by Lea Massari) disappears. Murder, accident, suicide?
Nobody knows. Anna’s best friend Claudia (Monica Vitti) and her boyfriend Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti) search for her and, in the course of their journey across Sicily following up clues, fall in love themselves. Claudia feels this is a betrayal of Anna; Sandro seems not to. When Sandro then in turn betrays Claudia with a high-class tart in a hotel, the new relationship is put at risk but seems to survive.
‘Seems’ is indeed the key word in discussing L’Avventura, as well as Antonioni’s subsequent films such as La Notte or L’Eclisse. In these films nothing is ever certain and an air of mystery hangs over the smallest events as much as over the major ones.
Accustomed to the heavily signalled certainties of melodrama, audiences took a little time to adjust to Antonioni’s deliberately quizzical approach to the problems of human relationships and his refusal either to moralise or to dramatise. Indeed, although it won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 1960, it was booed by some members of the audience there.
There were other novelties too – the slow rhythms, the sparing use of music, and the sensitivity to nature and landscape shown by both filmmaker and his central character played by Monica Vitti. These novelties took time to absorb, but gradually audiences warmed to them. Most of all though, it was the sense of modernity inherent in the film that took viewers by surprise, the sense that here was a filmmaker who had caught the feel of life as it was being lived – at least by a people of a certain class – at the beginning of the 1960s. Nothing surprising in that, you might say, and something similar was happening in France with the New Wave there. But what is perhaps more surprising is the way this sense of modernity is still there forty or more years later. L’Avventura is a film that doesn’t stale, and that continues to look fresh, as if the modern world and modern cinema had been born along with it.
The landmark first film in a loose trilogy which also comprises La Notte and L'Eclisse. A woman goes missing during a Mediterranean boating trip, and as her companions vainly search for her, a couple tentatively fall in love. Ragged of structure, rambling and fresco-like, this vision of an alienated middle-class broke with classical storytelling, suggesting that beginnings, middles and endings don't come in that order in life. The controversial winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes in 1959.
Publisher: Mr Bongo
Length: 136 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 widescreen
Format: DVD B&W
Released: 9th June 2008
Cat No: MRBDVD09
Sight and Sound 2012 - Top 50 Greatest Films 49 films
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