How, after fifty years, did L'Avventura (1960) change in the eyes of the contemporary film audience? Or simply, what differentiates my initial reaction to the film than to the people who have first seen it in 1960 or 61? are some of the questions that i have in mind a few days ago. From the article i was reading just last night entitled The Man Who Set Film Free, Martin Scorsese wrote his initial reaction being:
"But while Hitchcock showed us what happened to Janet Leigh in “Psycho,” Michelangelo Antonioni never explained what had happened to Massari’s Anna. Had she drowned? Had she fallen on the rocks? Had she escaped from her friends and begun a new life? We never found out...
...The more I saw “L’Avventura” — and I went back many times — the more I realized that Antonioni’s visual language was keeping us focused on the rhythm of the world: the visual rhythms of light and dark, of architectural forms, of people positioned as figures in a landscape that always seemed terrifyingly vast. And there was also the tempo, which seemed to be in sync with the rhythm of time, moving slowly, inexorably, allowing what I eventually realized were the emotional shortcomings of the characters...
..Where almost every other movie I’d seen wound things up, “L’Avventura” wound them down. The characters lacked either the will or the capacity for real self-awareness. They only had what passed for self-awareness, cloaking a flightiness and lethargy that was both childish and very real. And in the final scene, so desolate, so eloquent, one of the most haunting passages in all of cinema, Antonioni realized something extraordinary: the pain of simply being alive. And the mystery.“L’Avventura” gave me one of the most profound shocks I’ve ever had at the movies, greater even than “Breathless” or “Hiroshima, Mon Amour” (made by two other modern masters, Jean-Luc Godard and Alain Resnais, both of them still alive and working). Or “La Dolce Vita.” "--- Martin Scorsese [here]
Following Scorsese's initial reaction, we draw up a synthesis of what and what has been L'Avventura from its inception until now.
Blog notes will follow shortly.
[update every 15 to 30 minutes]
1 | Opening sound is both exciting and mysterious. It approximates the streak of events in the film: an adventure turned mystery turned love story turned disillusioned plot. Reminds me of the sounds from Pink Panther (1963), if i remember it correctly. The texts are bold and aligned in the left with a black background.
2 | The first image (first screenshot below) where Anna walks towards the camera is the very essence of Antonini's mise-en-scene compositions. I describe it being "structural" highlighting geometric intricacies both integral to the character's feeling and the thrust of the mise-en-scene. The dominant structure here is the arc. because it disrupts the slanting lines from the lower left of the screen to the upper right of the screen. This is repeated in the next image below image 2A. The parallelism is implicit, we do not know what Antonioni really wants to establish, but somehow, this shot alludes to many other shots in the film.
3 | Driving. Notice the dynamic change of lines in the frames. From left-to-right dominated sequences awhile ago, the change in lines occur rather abrupt. This is followed by a direct cut-shot from the back of the car in an attached camera. Arriving at their destinaLong shot scale. Staging in deep space. Anna meets the guy she will marry. The space is well constructed and framed, Antonioni has penchant for lines and figures.
4 | Anna enters through the door. The shot is still structural. The placement of the camera is head on to its subject, direct but elusive. The door shot, as one can observe, will be repeated many times in the film. It somehow demarcates a certain kind of positioning of the both narrative and the location of the characters. Internal and external shots contrasted with internal and external feeling of the characters. Inside the house. Man kisses her. The long shot scale during foreplay as they hide through
5 | A certain adoration on colors. Painting. Monica vitti inside a museum or gallery. The distance of the camera is observably poised.
6 | Rapid cuts.
7 | Dissolving in the waters. Claudia is Monica Vitti. It a very fluid but very staged shot on the boat. Sexuality is aluring, bright and bourgeois.
8 | Nears the island. Anna jumps into the water. Boyfriend, Sandro, saves her. They all went for a swim. Patrizia: "Islands.. i don't get them... they are all surrounded by things... poor things.."
9 | Cosimo is the dog. A shark. Gets away. Is this JAWS prequel? Deep sace staging. We do not see the shark. its only an account.
10 | Anna and Claudia inside the cabin. Laughin one another. The whole shark thing was a lie. A question on behavior
11 | puzzle pieces - Citizen cane. Sensuality.
12 | in the island. unknown. Anna and Sandro. Staging in two levels. a certain apphrehension in anna about the wedding.
13 | GIulia Wakes up. Claudia playing with the waves. People in their own follies. ANNA is lost. It very early in the film. "A typical anna behavior"
14 | Group Looks for Anna. Rocks. Solid. sea and structuring tides. Deep space. the shot scale is comparative, comparing the distances of the characters. Lost in finding the lost one.
[32 minutes into the film]
15 | The almost existenstial weight of looking for anna is elusive. Found a closed door.
16 | A tornado in the scene.
17 | falling rocks.
18 | Condrado belittles giulia.
19 | calling from the rocks, nothing..
20 | the group meets together. Sandro plans to go to the other island. Caludia decides to stay.
21 | opens the closed door. Lights the lantern. thunderstorms. three decides to stay inside the cabin.22 | Owner of the cabin enters. Claudia went outside and shouts for anna.
23 | Claudia woke up, and opens the window. Amazing shot of the sun. looks into Anna's things.
24 | Sandro beside the rocks. with Claudia talks about love of Anna to other people.
25 | looks into the islands. Owner of the cabin approaches, Sandro asks about the boat. eerie sound.
26 | Claudia washes her face. Eyeline match with Sandro. Sandro accidentally holds hands with Sandro.
27 | boats arrived. Help comes. looks out for the clift and nothing. Sandro is apprehensive. Searches for the water between rocks. Claudia cries. It might be that Anna is dead.
28 | A broken vase. A sign of Anna? Plant germaniums. yatch.
29 | Annas father arrived. books, bible and clothes of anna. helicopter arrives. for more help. Signs and symbols. Going to Millazo. Daughter
30 | inside cabin. Enters Sandro. Doors. kisses claudia. OMG! Claudia joins the search. Camera moving with the boat.
[1 hour into the film... haha! 9PM until now, ive seen 1 hr of the film...]
31 | inside a room, i think a police station. talking with an accused person. Fishermen being questioned. Allegation on a certain wall. implicated on the disappearance of anna.
32 | A certain appreciation on the artistry of the villa.
33 | Sitting on the couch, Claudia reading the news paper. sees a news of Anna. meets with Sandro, shows the paper. Shot reverse shot.
34 | Train arrives. claudia. Sandro runs for the train.
35 | Inside train cabin. enters sandro. not prepared for annas or the budding relationship.
36 | On the halls of the train. beautiful scenery. laughs at the conversation. wants Sandro to go away. Such a gem to frame it successively.
37 | A riot in some town. A certain gloria perkins. madness over gloria perins. Talks with a detective.
38 | Claudia, having a meal with two women at the balcony. still looking for Claudia.
39 | Claudia trying on here dress. fitting on a ring rushes outside to look out for an arriving car. the iconic picture appears. Tries on a wig.
40 | Paintings. Painting nudes. inside Godofredo.
[1 hr 23 minutes into the film --- my copy is stuck. oh no!]