It is good to see two screenings at the cinema of this art film classic. Even more that it will be an opportunity for very young film buffs to become acquainted with one of the masters of modern European cinema. Michelangelo Antonioni achieved fame with a trio of films at the start of the 1960s: L’avventura (1959), La notte (1960) and this final film in the trilogy. People differ about which is the finest; my favourite is L’avventura. However, I think most would admit that this film is the most challenging: a challenge that offers its own rewards.
Antonioni has been described as the ‘poet of alienation’. The films describe failed or rootless relationships: metaphors for the wider social dislocations of the period. But these are relationships embedded in evocative landscapes: both natural and urban. The central relationship in this film is between Vittoria, played by one of the icons of sixties cinema Monica Vitti: and Riccardo, played by Alain Delon, a fine actor who moved easily between French and Italian films.
The predominant landscape is Rome, following in the footsteps of the neo-realists and Federico Fellini. But Antonioni concentrates on the city’s Stock Exchange and city’s modern and fashion conscious EUR zone. In these films the landscape is an accompanying character, here presented in the luminous black and white cinematography of Gianni Di Venanzo. Interiors are equally impressive and suggestive. It is the landscape and its architecture that dominates the final moments of the film: a series of beautifully composed shots which close with another metaphoric image.
The film has been restored by the BFI onto a digital package, running 126 minutes with English subtitles.