Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Monday, 23 January 2012

L'Avventura again, and again

Here is an early post of mine from 2 years ago, on Antononi's L'AVVENTURA:

The late English film critic and writer Alexander Walker [whom I used to see around town regularly] was very perceptive in his movie reviews and his biographies on the likes of Vivien Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor, Rex Harrison, Garbo and the silent era. His Thursday reviews were essential reading.

Here are his comments from a recommendation on a screening of L'AVVENTURA:

"Not all great movies, as Pauline Kael tartly observed, are received "in an atmosphere of incense burning". Michelangelo Antonioni's L'AVVENTURA was greeted at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival with a storm of cat-calling and booing. Yet within the year it had become the most fashionable film in European arthouses, and one that set the tone of other bleakly visionary film-makers. It begins with an almost glossy magazine depiction of the affluent Rome middle-class on a yachting holiday in the Lipari islands. Tensions are perceptible, but enigmatically conveyed. Then, as they prepare to leave an island, one woman (Lea Massari) is found to be missing. A search is mounted. With marvellous sleight-of-hand, Antonioni misdirects our attention: gradually we realise that instead of being looked for by her friends, she is being forgotten as two of them fall in love. The film changes key subtly, yet again to suggest how the emotions of a social class have become deadened and selfish. Monica Vitti made her name with this puzzle picture. The last sequence in a Taormina luxury hotel became notorious for her apparantly endless walk through the midnight corridors to discover her treacherous lover (Gabriele Ferzetti). It tried the patience of the black-tie crowd beyond endurance; yet The Walk soon became the trademark of other heroines, in other movies, who exemplified the sick soul of sixties Europe."

L'AVVENTURA was though the most problematic of the Antonioni films for me, I much preferred L'ECLISSE but now I have seen L'AVVENTURA a few more times and suddenly I think its wonderful in all its stark beauty. Our arty film channel Film4 ran it again last week, and despite having the Criterion dvd, I recorded it and found myself returning to it several times. It is pure cinema and I can now lose myself in it repeatedly. The first section on the island is brilliant - the photographs here show what a difficult shoot it must have been on the island in that magic year 1959. Monica Vitti is mesmerising and its a very multi-faceted performance: her anguish on the island searching for Anna, then trying to evade Sandro and finally giving in to her feelings and being deliriously in love and then that climax at the hotel in Taormina in that cold dawn ... a gold plated classic then and as I said in other posts on it, it and PSYCHO usher in that new modern world of 1960, both in their way about a woman who disappears and the people looking for her.

No comments:

Post a Comment