Author Topic: Michelangelo Antonioni  (Read 16219 times)

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(kelvin)

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Michelangelo Antonioni
« on: April 12, 2003, 05:23:31 PM »
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Recently, I watched nearly all of his films in a retrospective dedicated to his uniquely poetic works. I was stunned by the beauty and sadness of "L'Avventura", "La Notte", "L'Eclisse", just to name my favourites.
In fact, I don't think it is anyhow possible to make better movies than he did. I felt like looking into a mirror: those people trapped in sweet postmodern indifference, only united through their crying silence and their silent crying.
I was deeply touched. Nevertheless, I also have to admit that Antonioni's actress "fétiche" Monica Vitti is just great. I would very much like to discuss any of his films.

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Michelangelo Antonioni
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2003, 07:00:20 PM »
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"L'Avventura" is one of the absolute best and most important movies ever made.  The only other films I've been able to see of his include "La Notte", which seems like a weird movie for him to even have made at the time considering the art of it is near duplicate of L'Avventura but yet the movie is much smaller in scope and effect than its predessor. I do enjoy watching La Notte though to this day because the Antonioni art is still there and always good to see and Jeanne Moreau may have absolutely the most beautiful face I've ever seen. The third movie in the trilogy, L'Avventura and La Notte being the first two, L'Eclisse, seems like it does go farther in its art than L'Avventura while La Notte seemed a minor work compared to it. I really want to see L'Eclisse because from what I know of it, it seems even Antonoini is challenging himself to how far he can push his art, especially with the ending. Criterion sooner or later will release this one. Then the other I've seen was "Blow Up", which I absolutely loved because it felt in the same vein of L'Avventura and Antonioni's work, but seem even more subtle and harder to examine in presenting itself. L'Avventura, though it may not have pushed it's new art the farthest, it pushed it a significant amount to where it still can be represented as the best for its style because it wasn't like an early Bergman film that was pretty easy in symbolism when compared to his later work, that became much farther complex. L'Avventura though as a beginning work for its art, still was of high quality to compete with any of the others in arguments.  Antonoini's 60s work seems to run in the same class of importance and especially for Italian cinema at the time, when Antonoini was working within "Interior Realism", a second movement of sorts from "Neo Realism" and seemed to represent the very best in that movement to not only how far one can push the boundaries to show that focus on the loss of spiruality and fullness, but how one can show it the most effectively. I think Antonoini did it the best of anyone at the time. Fellini had his greatest works during this period and was of sorts working within Interior Realism, but he really is a different benchmark and seemed completely outside of all classifications and better represented to be in his own category of filmmaker. Fellini remains my personal favorite for the times and one of the best ever, if not the best for film art.

Also, it must be noted that I saw Beyond the Clouds, with co direction by Wim Wenders. The art of Antonoini and his approach was there, but it seemed like minor material and presented in a way that was not very fulfilling when compared to his earlier work and its power.  It just seemed he was showing his style without evolving on it.

~rougerum

Cecil

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Michelangelo Antonioni
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2003, 08:33:31 PM »
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unfortunately ive only seen blowup and zabriskie point, both of which i love. and it pains me that they are not out on dvd.

(kelvin)

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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2003, 04:33:43 PM »
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In fact, "L'Avventura" might be Antonioni's best film, I would even count it between the Top 10 best films ever. Perhaps only Tarkovsky was able to express similar ideas of existentialism and nihilism melted with poetry and passion.
Antonioni's films have a certain style, very recognizable and individualistic. I simply adore his obsession to integrate the architecture into his pictures. It becomes a narrative element that comments on the thoughts and feelings of his characters.
The great tragic in his movies consists in the fact that the depicted characters are all in search for something that doesn't exist, that runs away from them, and the more they chase it, the faster it runs. Now, worst of all, they are actually totally aware of their fate: they know that they know, but they won't admit it.
This leitmotiv finds its climax in "L'Eclisse". The opening seems to last just an eternity; the film shows us a post-communicative world where the street lights can give more warmth than man itself. It's the eclipse of mankind, very silent an very sad.
But I think that "La notte" is as well a great film, even though it is not as radical as the two other movies mentioned. Nevertheless, there are some magnificent scenes in it.
As for "Beyond the clouds", it is a profound reflection about something called love, which I liked a lot. Given Antonioni's health, it was quite an extraordinary achievement.
"Blow Up" is of course also a great film, if not a real masterpiece. Nevertheless, I have to say that, as in most if his colour films, I missed somehow the "chic" portrayed in his previous films.

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« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2003, 07:06:22 PM »
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I liked La Notte as well, but as I said before, the movie didn't really develop its own identity and of the trilogy, is generally considered to be the weakest of the three, which I would agree with. I also have L'Avventura in my top ten list for best ever and fully believe it created a new art form in the movies.

Though I did like 'Beyond the Clouds', it seemed much more mainstream than the other works of Antonioni, but still of his signature. Beyond The Clouds was easy to follow and take path with, where his real masterpieces of the past really brought themselves into a world unlike our other that was like an experience of seeing the world a new, where the worst fate is not to die, but to continue to live a meaningless existence.

And the more I think of Blow Up, the more I really do love it because the identification of meanings in a movie like L'Avventura is easier to understand, where Blow Up takes issue with things that are so much more random in life that many things can be of interpretation, or to the viewer not understanding of Antonioni's art, can seem even more meaningless than any of his other works that I've seen.

The film besides L'Eclisse I want to see the most of his is The Passenger. From what I hear though, it is really of very limited availability. The star of the film, Jack Nicholson, owns the rights to it and it leasing it out to absolutely no one. He is keeping the film to himself and the limited availability it has now is as wide as it will be because I guess the film is way too personal for him to be released wide because it reflects on a period of time in his life that is too personal for him to show the world. Curiosity only thickens with case.

~rougerum

(kelvin)

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« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2003, 07:04:19 AM »
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Strange story about Nicholson keeping "The Passenger" just for himself...a bit eccentric, isn't it? Well, okay, the actor himself is, let's say, "unconventional". Is the original title of the movie "Professione : reporter"? For I will have the possibility to watch it in a fews weeks in a retrospective. Anyway, I am looking forward to it, because it is one of the few works by Antonioni I haven't seen yet.
And yes, "Beyond the Clouds" may be more mainstram, but I think this fact resides in the nature of the subject. A film about the various aspects of love can't be put into the philosophical context and narrative patterns of his great masterpieces of the early 60s.
By the way, have you seen any of his short films or documentaries? Some of them are quite interesting.

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« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2003, 09:23:07 AM »
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I do understand that "Beyond the Clouds" is not fitting for his movies during the 60s on spiritual isolation. What I was trying to go for was more or less a new identity for this subject, like he did with spiritual isolation in the 60s that felt like something completely new. I don't think the film was thought out to its fullest capabilities of dealing with the mysteries of what love, or thought love, can be. He just seemed to take characteristics in general approach with his past films and mixed it with a general film that could have been attributed to anyone.

I haven't seen any of his documentaries or short films at all. My location and availability of his films in this location is quite limited. I am 4 hours from a decent a mid sized American city that has at least 2 indepedent theatres for these movies or interest in anything world cinema. I live in a city that has one theatre and the most basic of American movies. I'm stuck with trying to order online or through stores which has brought disastrous attempts with constant failures on some movies for me to get a hold of, especially the work of Max Ophuls in general. I can only for now, see the most wide spread works Antonioni has to offer.

~rougerum

SoNowThen

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Michelangelo Antonioni
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2003, 01:41:21 PM »
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What, no mention of Red Desert????

That's an outstanding film!
Those who say that the totalitarian state of the Soviet Union was not "real" Marxism also cannot admit that one simple feature of Marxism makes totalitarianism necessary:  the rejection of civil society. Since civil society is the sphere of private activity, its abolition and replacement by political society means that nothing private remains. That is already the essence of totalitarianism; and the moralistic practice of the trendy Left, which regards everything as political and sometimes reveals its hostility to free speech, does nothing to contradict this implication.

When those who hated capital and consumption (and Jews) in the 20th century murdered some hundred million people, and the poster children for the struggle against international capitalism and America are now fanatical Islamic terrorists, this puts recent enthusiasts in an awkward position. Most of them are too dense and shameless to appreciate it, and far too many are taken in by the moralistic and paternalistic rhetoric of the Left.

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« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2003, 07:01:19 PM »
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Actually, no mention of Red Desert is a good question. I've never seen it but from what I hear, it really isn't one of his best works at all and represents, with Zabriskie Point, two films from his high period of the 60s that were pretty bad according to most Antonioni enthusiasists. The reasons why is that it seems Antonioni dips way too much into self parody for these films. While watching L'Avventura with commentary on (I hardly ever watch any movie with commentary), the Antonioni expert identified a moment in the movie that was of self parody. It was on the island near the end of the search for the missing woman when nothing has been found and all seems hopeless as the people just walk around really doing nothing. In one scene, all the people are together sitting and frutting about the situation while the main guy of focus (forgot name) is walking back and forth in front of them, from what I remember. The idea is that Antonioni is making his ideas too obvious in this scene that would play out in a comedy trying to show people doing nothing with nothing important to do. While the rest of the island scene captured an ambiguilty to directly identify the situation of these people and in relation to the general themes of the movie, this one shot did it in easy fashion. It didn't fit and like Antonioni was directly saying what to feel instead of showing us the world for our own interpretation. The expert on the commentary said moments like these were all over Red Desert and Zabriskie Point, from memory, was said to be in faults mainly for this reason as well. Oh well, I still want to see them. Should be interesting to see how much I agree with the general consensus on these films, if I do.

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tpfkabi

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Michelangelo Antonioni
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2003, 09:44:47 PM »
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please bare with me. i only began looking at film as an artform a few months ago. during that period i was watching films like Sunrise, L'Avventura and The Seventh Seal all in one day back to back! so of course i didn't have the chance to really look and think about any individual films closely.
i remember L'Avventura's brilliant cinematography, but i was left a little confused. can you tell me what you took from the film, or your interpretation or anything really. and try not to use too many fancy words and terribly long explainations if possible.
thanks.
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« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2003, 08:36:00 AM »
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OK, so you liked the cinematography, which is that you probably realized the movie seemed to rely on that cinematography and just to hold on shots for long periods of time, making the cinematography more to the forefront of what you were noticing. Now take a look at what determines a normal movie, in that you get the set up for a scene by characters saying necessary information to push the story along or something happens that pushes the story along. Every scene in a movie is measured by how important it is to the rest of the movie, like does it say something that is completely important to the rest of the movie. So try to understand that each scene is not just a scene, but information given to you in the most limited amount of time. Now to understand L'Avventura in that way, also look at it as giving information in the most focused way it can. But, the major difference between L'Avventura and the average movie is that L'Avventura is not giving you all the important information through dialogue. The movie requires you to look at every single aspect of the picture you are seeing and see if you can relate it back to the main story. At the end of L'Avventura, when the two lovers realized the hopelessness of their relationship, you seem them not able to talk to each other in any comfortable way and a thick way of tension up. But look behind them at the scenery. There is a tree that has its leaves blowing pretty hard even if there is no other evidence it is a windy day. Then look further back and you see not just a mountain, but a dorment volcano. Now why would the only scene in the movie be this one where a volcano is shown? You try to relate these elements to what is being felt in the character drama in the movie. Basically Antonioni movies are about the dominance of one's surrounding on their life and the interpretation of it. And it also must be known, that interpretation of the actions of the character are more important what they are saying so it goes down to the acting technique when you really want to study acting, you don't see how they say their lines, but you turn the sound off and see how they do their actions because that is most revealing. Try to look at the characters in this movie that way, try to read their body language because it is most revealing without necessarily saying who they are in what spoken words as drama would. It goes for the ambiguous and the feeling of what the viewer feels in watching the movie. I hope this helps.

~rougerum

Pubrick

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Michelangelo Antonioni
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2003, 09:24:03 AM »
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Quote from: The Gold Trumpet
I hope this helps.

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paragraphs would help more.
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(kelvin)

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Michelangelo Antonioni
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2003, 03:00:41 PM »
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@ The Gold Trumpet:
I agree so far with your comments on "Beyond the Clouds". It is neither "L'Avventura" nor "L'Eclisse". Nevertheless, in my opinion, it is a film that really has some qualities and it is far from being mainstream. (I do not even dare to imagine what a mainstream Antonioni would look like...)
I really liked your explanation of "L'Avventura". By the way, which other films do you count between your personal favourites besides this one? Mine include Vertov's "The Man With a Movie Camera", "Barry Lyndon", "La passion de Jeanne d'Arc" and "Hana-Bi" (etc etc etc). I'm always interested in these kinds of questions...
Besides, if you ever happen to be in Europe, Luxembourg especially, visit the "cinémathèque municipale"...a temple for cinephiles and for those who love Antonioni's movies...

Pwaybloe

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« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2003, 03:08:06 PM »
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Quote from: chriskelvin
I really liked your explanation of "L'Avventura".


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« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2003, 06:53:01 PM »
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It's always nice to get compliments, especially for me when I hardly get any and post to the point where I am looking for arguments or discussion instead.

Other personal favorites? Well, there is a movie playing in the world right now I think is of the same equality of importance as L'Avventura, and thats City of God. On its outside storyline, it is very much like Goodfellas, but the movie attains new grounds in my mind to being a completely poetic movie through the editing. Editing has always been the key and most distinguisable aspect of the movies to separate it from other art forms, but in City of God, it feels like it is really being pushed to its limits for the first time. The movie is a rapid fire of so many cuts that doesn't show off because it can, but to grab the emotional feeling of chaos within its world. In it, you get prolly one of the best experiences in just watching a movie because the movie at once, moves like a documentary in breaking away from acting techniques that dominates other movies and goes for a pure realism, but yet with the look of a documentary, it uses pure movie magic to heighten that feeling into the stratusphere of how far emotion in just viewing a movie can be pushed. Citizen Kane acted as bringing all aspects learned in making movies from the beginning to its time all into one movie. With the film world based off the indepedent movements starting in 1960s and 1970s and great interest in capturing realism, it is under my belief City of God acts as the equivalent of Citizen Kane for our own times in bringing every single aspect learned in making movies from the last 30 or so years into one movie. Every chance I get in promoting this movie, I do it and will continue to do so because I believe in its greatness so much even if it has yet to be general fact among film fans.

But for other personal favorites, I would say works like Grave of the Fireflies, 8 1/2, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Singin' In The Rain, Apocalypse Now, La Dolce Vita, Citizen Kane and The Passion of Joan of Arc among other works would rank very high for me. Personally, I've been getting into the imagination possible with animation lately and the beauty and grace of the musicals as well.

~rougerum

 

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