Tuesday, 18 December 2007
I've been watching a lot of old films lately. Michelangelo Antonioni's L'avventura from 1960 was one of the best. I found it a refreshing insight into how seemingly simple life was two generations ago, yet how complex relationships could become. It tells the story of a wealthy, stlyish, oversexed man, frustrated by a lack of satisfaction from past relationships (Gabriele Ferzetti), trying to develop and cement something new with an irritatingly complex and unresponsive woman, Anna.
Ferzetti is unbelievably magnetic. He's not the best looking, but women are drawn to his powerful virility. When Anna disappears after throwing a tantrum while on an island vacation, he falls in love with her much simpler, and undeniably more beautiful, best friend (Monica Vitti). Monica Vitti - see picture - is absolutely gorgeous in that very 60s-vogue-blonde, black and white chic kind of way. Their love, guilt-filled at first, turns her into the complex kind of woman that Ferzetti was troubled by in the first place.
The film is a character study, a film lovers' film. It pioneered the use of long takes and empty frames. Existential themes from post-second world war thought, such as the feeling of 'modern alienation', are central but not overpowering. I came away from watching this with a feeling that life is inherently uncertain, yet, is fully predetermined. I felt that, as people, it's really hard for us to grasp the big picture.
Wikipedia says L'avventura won the Prix le Premier Regard at Cannes in 1960. You should check it out.