Made of four short tales, linked by a story filmed by Wim Wenders. Taking place in Ferrara, Portofino, Aix en Provence and Paris, each story, which always a woman as the crux of the story, ... See full summary »
A documentary on China, concentrating mainly on the faces of the people, filmed in the areas they were allowed to visit. The 220 minute version consists of three parts. The first part, ... See full summary »
After living seven years with the mechanic Aldo, having a daughter with him, the simple woman Irma is informed that her absent husband had just died in Sydney. She becomes upset when Aldo proposes to marry her and she tells him that she is going to leave him. Unable to explain how much he loves her, Aldo takes their daughter Rosina and travels with her, meeting different women in different places, trying to establish a new relationship and fill the emptiness of his sentimental life. He visits his former lover Elvia; he meets and lives with the widow Virginia, who owns a gas station; he lives with the prostitute Andreina. But these relationships never complete the needy Aldo. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Antonioni is one of the sages of cinema, perhaps the wisest of them. His cinema is a stunning edifice; a structure rigid and harmonious as shaped by a visual vocabulary which articulates with few words a place and a time; pattern and blueprint, whereby each film as individual level informs and is informed by the whole; these levels filled with doors to insight and intuition. To all these doors he holds the keys, and in the spaces behind the doors, which are closed to most filmmakers, he moves freely and sees everything. Meditation as stillness of mind, which enables awareness.
Naturally some of these levels are more aptly functional, staircases that lead higher. Il Grido is one of those (and La Notte later).
Nonetheless we see here the early sketches of what is to come. We see a man cast adrift after a painful breakup as passing through various lives, affecting them with shortlived passions and vexations. Each of these lives he briefly shares could be a possible new home, a safe harbor where peace and happiness are finally possible. But he moves on, still clinging to a mad hope and frustrated desire that his old affair could resume at any point.
So this is the fascinating stuff. A man alone, itinerant, ostensibly free to be what he may, but captive of his desires so that he's nothing at all, except perhaps a painful memory. The downward spiral into squalor and misery is not simply the upkeep of a bad karma, but a reminder of what fuels the restlessnesss. What negativity keeps him going, regret or unfulfillment, will only be encountered ahead of him, it cannot be escaped by running from it.
In passing through these phases the film perhaps stalls for too long. We understand what is going on, the proverbial journey of an empty, unfulfilled life, but Antonioni wants to shape these lives as lived, meaning we get the mundane details of their routine. The comings and goings and side characters, as vignettes. This is the neorealist baggage ostensibly cinema in the service of revealing/documenting society, which Antonioni is about to shed for his next film, and be free as a creative spirit.
For the end Antonioni reserves defeaning symbolism, by contrast to the hazy allusions he would favour onwards. The man climbs on the refinery tower, the place and time where he was for once happy in his life and which now seems impossible to attain again, and we don't even have to guess what happens next.
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