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At Zabriskie Point, United States' lowest point, two perfect strangers meet; an undergraduate dreamer and a young hippie student who start off an unrestrained romance, making love on the dusty terrain.
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
Other reviews to the contrary, if you found Le Notte or L'Eclisse lacked sufficient plot, I doubt you'll enjoy Il Grido. However, unlike later Antonioni, the focus here is not on fear of commitment & loss of passion, but on a classic spurned lover. Like L'Eclisse, Il Grido begins with breakup, magnificently acted & powerfully filmed; we feel each shudder of pain. In fact, both films' power rests on us sharing this experience, second by second, nerve-end by nerve-end. Note Irma's efforts to hold to the fabric of order & routine to keep a lid on Aldo's fury & the careful portrayal of Aldo's frustrations.
Il Grido's opening builds to a very public & final breakup. It initiates Aldo's journey away from Irma & home. I kept thinking of Schubert's song cycle, Winterreise. In both, after rejection the protagonist's world ceases to hold together. Only here the descent isn't into winter but into fog, industrial sprawl, & ever more spartan existence. Even the piano which accompanies Aldo reminded me of lieder.
The opening's not quite picturesque scenery may suggest nurturing home values. Unlike couples in other Antonioni classics, Aldo & Irma have a daughter, & to Aldo their lives seemed fulfilled. The almost picturesque is soon replaced by encroaching industrial sounds & images. Several times we see trees felled as an old order is being swept away. At film's end, the whole town is slated for demolition, & we are asked to contemplate the relation between the Winterreise-like main text of lost love & this subtext of industrial sprawl & oppressive, intrusive government. No clear connection is given, but as in later Antonioni, the images work their effect as much on our subconscious as on our intellect; whether we can verbalize our thoughts or not, we feel this rupture with earlier values & social structures. For me, Il Grido is a more honest film than L'Avventura. If it lacks a bit of the elegant, refined photo compositions of Antonioni's trilogy, it rests on the same detailed, carefully structured cinematography.
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