Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Essential Cinema - 9

Italian Language with English Sub-Titles


Gabriele Ferzetti
Monica Vitti
Lea Massari
Dominique Blanchar
Renzo Ricci
James Addams
Dorothy De Poliolo

Michelangelo Antonioni

Michelangelo Antonioni
Elio Bartolini

Aldo Scavarda

Several friends are on vacation in the Mediterranean. One of the women disappears while exploring a deserted island. The film chronicles her friends search for her and their ensuing love affair.

Love and desire are complex things. "The Adventure" referenced in the title refers to not knowing someone and discovering who they are.....often times, over and over again. The underlying message of the film is that you can never really know someone you love and figuring out who they are is a never ending process.

This is one of those films that is considered a classic. The film won a Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival when it was shown back in the 1960s. I have always wanted to watch it but was never able to find enough time to sit through the whole film uninterrupted. After finally watching the entire work I must say that I was impressed.

The film is beautifully shot and very intimate. It makes the viewer try and find meaning when there may not be any. There is obviously something going on with the characters, especially Anna at the beginning of the film, but we are not told what it is. These characters are playing games, but their motivation and meaning remain a mystery. There are hints of early Bergman in this work, but with much more passion between the characters. The use of cinematography in the film is outstanding, creating an intimate world of beauty and loneliness. The use of the Italian landscapes, seascapes, countryside, and architecture are stunning and create an hypnotic background for the protagonists in the picture.

While watching the film it is almost impossible to take your eyes off the central characters. It is as though they are about to divulge some secret that is laying just below the surface, but in the end they remain silent and the viewer is left with an insatiable wondering about what is going to happen. It is as though the viewer is thrown into their lives without knowing the whole story and we can only watch as they struggle to come to terms with their passions and their guilt. This could be considered a 'chick flick' (the opposite of Ice Station Zebra) although not the standard Hollywood variety. It deals with deep emotions and the struggle of rational thought over desire.

There are a few cons in this film. It is dated in some of it's cinematic technique. The train rushing through the countryside in the middle of a passionate love scene is a bit of a cliche by today's standards, but may have had profound symbolism when the film was made. American viewers might have a problem with the lack of a neat and tidy plot that has a beginning an arch and a conclusion. It is there, but it is pretty subtle.

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